SHADES

MY INTEREST STARTED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OREGON IN 1959 WHEN RICK MATHER, NOW OF LONDON ARCHITECTURAL FAME, MY CLASSMATE, RENTED AN APARTMENT WITH HOWARD BACKEN AND THEY DECORATED IT UP AND HAD A PARTY. RICK TOOK SOME HEAVY PAPER AND CONSTRUCTED SOME LANTERN LIGHTS. MUCH TO MY ENVY AND ADMIRATION.

DUTCH BONNET SHADE 1969

 

THE VAST MAJORITY OF SOCIETY LIVE IN SOME FORM OF A BOX. TO GET VISUAL STIMULI WE TURN TO THE OBJECTS IN THAT SPACE. TYPICALLY REFERRED TO AS INTERIOR DESIGN. MY FATHER’S BUSINESS IN BEVERLY HILLS AND BRENTWOOD, WHEN I WAS A KID. ONCE I WENT OFF TO ARCHITECTURAL SCHOOL THE BIGGER SPACE BECAME THE INTEREST, CALLED ARCHITECTURE, BUT THAT IS LIMITED. RECENTLY NOTING THAT EVEN BJARKE INGELS OF “BIG” LIVES IN ONE OF HIS BOXY MULTIFAMILY COMPLEXES.

THE OBJECTS IN THAT BOXY SPACE BECOME THE FOCUS. THEREFORE LAMP SHADES PROVIDE INSTANT VISUAL INTEREST. THE SELECTIONS HAVE RECENTLY IMPROVED, BUT STILL ARE A MAJOR INVESTMENT THAT MOST PEOPLE HAVE A HARD TIME TO JUSTIFY FINANCIALLY. YOU CAN INVEST MONEY IN A CHAIR, BECAUSE YOU SIT IN IT, BUT A SHADE?

I CRUDELY THROW SOMETHING TOGETHER, BUT TO MOST PEOPLE THEY NEED THE LABEL AND ASSURANCE IT WILL NOT CATCH FIRE. SOMETIMES THE BULB HAS COME IN CONTACT WITH THE SHADE AND A SINGE OCCURS, BUT NEVER A FIRE TO DATE. A BIT OF LUCK. I RECOMMEND KEEPING AT LEAST A COUPLE INCHES OF CLEARANCE BETWEEN BULB AND SHADE.

I AM A LAZY GUY AND GRAB WHAT IS AROUND ME TO CONSTRUCT LIGHTS. THE FIRST LIGHT SHADES BEING IN 1969 FOR MY OFFICE IN VENICE. I TOOK A COUPLE OF WATER COLOR SHEETS OF PAPER AND PINNED THEM IN REVERSE BENT SHAPES. I USED A STAY, LIKE ON A TUX SHIRT AS THE PIN CONNECTION.

I REFINED THE ELECTRICAL CORD CONNECTION AND ENTERED IT IN A COMPETITION. GOT NOTHING, BUT THOUGHT IT WAS BEAUTIFUL AND UNIQUE. I APPROACHED THE FOUNDER OF H.U.D.D.L.E. , JIM HULL TO MANUFACTURE IT. HE DECLINED. WHAT A SHAME. I DID IT AS A LARK, TO BE SERIOUS ONE NEEDS TO IMMERSE THEMSELVES IN THE DESIGNS TO GET THEM TO MARKET OR HAVE SOMEBODY WITH BIG BUCKS TO GREESE THE PROCESS.

THE DESIGN PROCESS IS FAST. WITHIN A COUPLE OF HOURS THERE IS A THREE DIMENSIONAL SHAPE THAT IS USEABLE. ALL SO SIMPLE, AND CAN BE BROKEN DOWN FOR SHIPPING , WEIGHING LESS THAN MOST THROW AWAY JUNK MAIL CATALOGUES. THERE ARE ENDLESS SHAPES AND PATTERNS TO EXPLORE. LET ALONE THE COLOR POSSIBILITIES.

THE PERSONAL ENTITLEMENT IS REFRESHING, BUT FEW ARCHITECTS DARE TO TREAD. SO FEARFUL OF JUDGMENT. I THINK THAT HAS TO DO WITH DETAILS, WHICH GOD IS IN, BUT I LEAVE FOR THE FUTURE.

DUTCH BONNET SHADE 1969

FLAME SHADE 1992

 

THE TRIANGLE LAMP SHADE WAS THE RESULT OF PANIC ON MY PART.  I WAS LIVING WITH WIFE 2 MILICA AND KIDS YASMINA AND ERIK ON A FARM IN OREGON WHEN RAY AND SHELLY KAPPE WERE COMING  FOR A VISIT IN 1992.  THERE WAS NOTHING REDEEMING ABOUT THE BUILDER HOUSE WE OWNED.  SO TO GET THE FOCUS OFF THE HOUSE I DESIGNED AND BUILT A PREDOMINANT LARGE SHADE FOR OVER THE DINING TABLE.  THE FIRST THING ONE SAW ENTERING THE HOUSE.  RAY AND SHELLY WERE GOOD SPORTS, BUT I FELT GUILTY ABOUT THEM HAVING TO ENDURE  BEING AROUND SO MUCH UGLINESS,  BUT THE LAMP SHADE WAS BORN AND ALLOWED ME TO SAVE FACE.

THE SYSTEM IS A HEAVY CARDBOARD TRIANGLE BENT IN REVERSE FORM.  I GLUE GUNNED THE IDENTICAL PARTS TOGETHER.  THE LIGHT SOURCE A SINGLE BULB ON A ROD FROM THE CEILING.

FLAME SHADE 1992

FLUORESCENT TUBE REVOLT 2003

 

I WAS IN NICARAGUA,  AND THE ROOM I WAS GIVEN HAD A FLUORESCENT SINGLE TUBE LIGHT GOING DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE CEILING.   TALK ABOUT  SCRATCHING THE BLACKBOARD WITH UGLY.  THIS WAS IT.

THE CEILING WAS WOOD,  SO I TOOK A COUPLE OF WOOD STRIPS ABOUT 1/2″ X 1/2 ”  AND USED THEM AS THE BASE TO GLUE GUN A BUNCH OF  SQUARE BENT PIECES OF PAPER THAT LAPPED EACH OTHER.  I BUILT IT IN LESS THAN AN HOUR,  AND SCREWED THE WOOD STRIPS TO THE CEILING.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE, I JUST LOVED LOOKING AT THE LIGHT PATTERN AND SHAPES CREATED.  IT BECAME MY FOCUS AND IT WAS DELIGHTFUL.

THE WHOLE IDEA OF LOOKING AT A LIGHT SOURCE IS A BASIC NEED OF MAN.  LIKE LOOKING AT THE MOON.  SO MAKING IT AS A SCULPTURAL TURN ON IS SO REFRESHING TO MY SOUL. I WOULD RATHER STARE AT ONE OF MY SHADES THAN LOOK AT THE RIDICULOUS CLOTHING  OF MOST PEOPLE.

FOLDED PLATE SHADE 2007

 

MY DAUGHTER YASMINA HAD GIVEN ME SOME LAMP BASES AND ASKED ME TO CREATE A SHADE.

IT WAS HER BIRTHDAY,  SO I HAD TO PUT UP OR SHUT UP.

I FOLDED A BUNCH OF 8 1/2″ X 11″ PAPER AND THEN JUST PLAYED AROUND SLIDING THEM AND ATTACHING THEM TO EACH OTHER TO CREATE A SHADE.  A  BIT CRUDE, BUT THAT CRUDENESS JUST ADDED INTEREST.

BARREL VAULT SHADE 2010

 

I AM A GARAGE SALE JUNKIE,  I FOUND A STAINLESS STEEL BASE FLOOR LAMP WITH A LOUSY SHADE .  SO I KEEP THE BASE AND TOOK 8 1/2 ” X 11″ INCH PAPER AND BENT AND GLUED THEM TOGETHER.  INSTANT LOOK.

ALL PARTIES LOVED THE DESIGN,  SO IT TAPPED INTO UNIVERSAL BEAUTY.

HOW TO CREATE A LOOK FOR $300 AT GARAGE SALES AND INTERNET SHOPPING.

 

GLEN

 

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  • eric chavkin

    POINT TO LINE TO PLANE

    Kandinsky’s Bauhaus textbook. The grammar lessons for abstraction. Hard line, machine forms, constructivist aesthetic. The good ones drifted into an organic vocabulary, the best dove into that sea. The biological aesthetic has its roots here.

    Imagery has supplanted the simple construction of forms, everything now has a double meaning, an ironic twist or sneer. It doesn’t have to be that way.

    These simple curved planes, set in succession or opposition, doesn’t need irony to say something. The vocabulary is form, and the language is biologic. Again, as always, the reference is nature.

    Overlapping skins , like the shells of crustaceans, folded planes , clustered tubes, like micro-organisms. Metaphors of biology. The subtle delight of receding shades, like layered hills that fade into distance , a nice effect. A mini world of light-play. The famous Poulson fixtures did this best, with hanging blossoms of light. Scandinavian designs always seemed to pick up on nature, like Aalto, like Saarinen.

    The pragmatic part of you argues that this can been done on the cheap. The idealist part of me cheers.

    eric chavkin

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      ERIC,

      THANKS FOR LETTING ME KNOW WHAT WE ARE LOOKING AT. YOUR STAMP OF APPROVAL IS APPRECIATED GIVING RISE TO JUMP START TO COMMENTS.

      I ONLY GAVE THIS ASSIGNMENT ONCE WHILE TEACHING , GETTING MIXED RESULTS. TIME HAS BROUGHT MORE UNDERSTANDING ABOUT HOW THE ASSIGNMENT COULD BE STATED TO GET SIGNIFICANT RESULTS.

      THE PROJECTS I GAVE WHILE TEACHING WHERE EVERYBODY IN THE CLASS CREATED A WINNER WAS REWARDING. I THINK EVERYBODY HAS VISUAL CREATIVE ABILITIES. WHAT HAS HAPPENED IS THAT ARTY SIDE HAS BEEN DRUMMED OUT OF MOST PEOPLE, BUT IT IS THERE WAITING TO BE TAPPED.

      THE BASIS OF MATERIAL BEING HEAVY PAPER 8 1/2″ X 11″ TO CREATE A LAMP SHADE. JUST WAITING TO HAPPEN. I AM SURE THE COMPUTER WOULD HAVE A LOT OF GREAT FORMS TO MAKE. BUT JUST THE THRILL OF CONSTRUCTING IT WITH ONES HANDS MIGHT GIVE INSIGHT TO OUR ABILITIES. THERE IS A PROCESS OF EXPERIMENTATION OF GLUEING , CUTTING, SHIFTING, BENDING WHEN CONSTRUCTING WITH CHEAP DESIGN MATERIALS, TO GET A FORM LIBERATES ONE.

      THE FORMS RESEMBLE NATURE, BUT NATURE HAS SO MUCH MORE GOING FOR IT WITH THE FUNCTIONS,COLORS, EFFICIENCY ETC. IT COULD BE LIKENED TO THE SKIN OF THE SEED POD, THE TRICK IS TO KEEP IT SIMPLE.

      THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS TO DATE HAS CREATED REDUNDANCY OF PATTERN, WHEREAS WHAT I SUGGEST IS A RANDOMNESS ON A THEME. A BIT TOO ABSTRACT FOR NORMAL ACCEPTANCE, BUT UP FOR ARTY CONSUMPTION.

      GLEN

  • eric chavkin

    AESTHETIC VIRUS

    More notes on Glens shades. Enough aesthetics. Let go over to the pragmatic side.

    Every building, every house, every (legal) room has a window, or some electrical illumination. Any opening, every source of light, has the potential to be shaped. The applications for these paper shades are endless.

    Manufactured or do-it-yourself I like the penetration of the organic into ‘the box’ . Anyone can do it. This has the runaway potential of an aesthetic virus. An art infection. Like you say; It’s cheap, it’s handmade, it transforms a space. I like that these ‘light modifier’ sculptures can give an arty character to spatial enclosures.

    SCI-Arc students pay tens of thousands to learn how to computer generate CAD-CAM mosaics when all the equipment required is paper, scissors, glue and an appreciation of natural structures. And of course, a teacher.

    Down with Brand Name light fixtures! Up with Smalls homemade light modifiers!

    eric chavkin

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      ERIC,

      THANKS FOR THE SHADE MANIFESTO.

      BUT LETS GET SOMETHING CLEAR. THIS IS NOT A “SMALL” MOVEMENT. THIS IS SIMPLE DESIGN THAT EVERYONE CAN DO.

      I KNOW THERE ARE A LOT BETTER DESIGNS OUT THERE THAN THESE CRUDE ATTEMPTS BY ME.

      BUT, WHAT MAKES THIS UNIVERSAL APPEAL IS THAT THERE ARE THE ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES THAT EVERYBODY CAN MAKE AND ENJOY.

      YES, IT WOULD BE WONDERFUL TO SEE ” MAKE YOUR SHADE ” CATCH HOLD. THINK OF A BETTER BRAND. EVERY ROOM HAS A LIGHT , WHY NOT A SENSUOUS SHADE AS WELL. HOOKED UP TO A DIMMER ALL SORTS OF THINGS CAN HAPPEN.

      GLEN

  • eric chavkin

    Thanks. You’re welcome.

    MANIFESTO’S R’ US. custom manifesto’s delivered to your desktop.
    “Make Your Shade..just do it!” slogan

    I kinda enjoy LIGHT MODIFIER, rhymes with humidifier.

    Hey big fella happy fathers day,,, late

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      ERIC,

      LIKE ALL YOUR SUGGESTIONS.

      WE SEEM TO BE DOING THE DIALOGUE, WHERE ARE ALL THE COMMENTARIES?

      IT IS TOO BAD THE BLOG DOES NOT LET ONE SEND PICTURES , BECAUSE WE COULD SHARE THAT WAY. A SHADE A DAY WILL KEEP THE MIND CONTENT.

      ALL THE KIDS CHECKED IN FOR FATHERS DAY, KIDS BEING MID THIRTIES TO FIFTIES. I FALL INTO THE GRAND KID CATEGORY.

      BIG FELLOW IS MELLOW AS OF THE MOMENT. SEARCHING FOR THE TEACHING JOB WITH MY LATEST RESEARCH, BIO, AND RECOMMENDATION LETTERS.

      HAD A MOMENTARY DESIRE AND BOUGHT A HIGH QUALITY DIRECT DRIVE TURN TABLE AT A GARAGE SALE. NOW I AM ESCAPING WITH THE RECORDS OF OLD TURNED WAY UP. THOSE WERE THE DAYS TODAY.

      GLEN

  • maninthemirror

    Would have loved to see the Flame shade 1992, as a house.

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      MITM,

      NEVER THOUGHT OF IT THAT WAY, BUT YOU ARE RIGHT, A FANTASTIC HOUSE.

      I BUILD WHAT I CAN. A SHADE IS AN IMMEDIATE BUILT OBJECT. MAYBE THAT WOULD BE AN APPROACH. START WITH A VOLUMN AND CONSTRUCT A PATTERN TO ENCLOSE THAT VOLUMN.

      THE FLAME HAS CONNECTIONS TO MY HOUSE IN OREGON GROUNDED.

      DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS TO MARKET THE FLAME HOUSE, BY THAT GET A CLIENT TO BUILD THIS PATTERN.

      THANKS FOR THE INSIGHT,

      GLEN

  • maninthemirror

    Hi Glen,
    You might think about doing what an architect in Oz is doing on the web. Doing a whole set of plans and selling them on the net. Not sure how successful he is though with this. Here is the link.
    http://www.elementsofdesign.com.au/
    Cheers

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      MITM,

      THANKS FOR THE LINK AND IDEA.

      THIS ALL HAS A BRIGHT FUTURE. WHAT I WOULD PROPOSE IS VERY DIFFERENT STUFF. IS THERE A MARKET FOR THAT? THERE MIGHT BE PEOPLE SEARCHING FOR IDEAS.

      I HAVE DONE A NUMBER OF PRELIMINARIES WHERE THE CLIENTS THOUGHT THEY COULD TAKE MY IDEA, HIRE MY CONTRACTOR, BY PASS MY EXACTNESS AND BUILD. ALL OF WHICH ENDED UP IN DIASTER. ONE BEING A HOUSE I SAW TONIGHT THAT WAS BUILT IN THE AREA, A REAL GEM THAT WAS SET UP FOR ADDITIONS, BUT THE NEW OWNERS HIRED OTHER ARCHITECTS TO AMMEND. A REAL MESS THAT THE CLIENTS DO NOT HAVE THE UNDERSTANDING TO REALIZE HOW THEY SCREWED UP.

      WHAT IS THE GOOD PART OF THE IDEA IS THAT THIS COULD ALL BE DONE ON THE INTERNET IN ANY LOCAL IN THE WORLD. THE CONTROL OF THE EXECUTION BEING THE DOWNSIDE. BUT MAYBE SOME WILL LISTEN. KEN KELLOG HAS STORIES OF HIS STUFF BEING EXACTLY BUILT LIKE THE PLANS WHEN HE IS THOUSANDS OF MILES AWAY.

      GLEN

  • eric chavkin

    For me this brings up the whole issue of fakes, forgery and reproductions. In art it is commonplace with a whole tradition of students copying ‘masters’ . Connoisseurship is the practice of identifying the real from the derivative.

    Architecture is a special case. In the 18thC English landscape architects designed fake ruins for gardens. Almost all of Neo-classicism reproduces the past ,specifically Roman architecture. It all seems so stage set like. Ever been in fake Mies? No amount of furniture corrects the uneasy feel of the inauthentic.

    Today in China they are reproducing Swiss villages, whole towns ala Disney but without the rides or Mickey Mouse. Japan has fake French castles, Albuquerque has fake pueblo, Orange County is all fake.

    it seems that most everything is counterfeit these days.

    So I say let them steal, pick the meat off the bones, xerox. It is and will never be the same. A copy is a copy.

    And for those too dumb to see, to feel, to appreciate the difference, just fuck ‘em.

    That’s not your future client, or friend, or admirer. They are just shadows on the wall. Just surface, image, illusion. I have seen enough fake Rolex watches to choke.

    The authentic is the standard others copy. In my ideal this minority elite wins and art rules. i am a nation of one and free.

    eric

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      ERIC,

      LIKE YOUR OBSERVATIONS, BUT HAVE AWAYS FELT ONE COULD MASS PRODUCE EXCELLENT ARCHITECTURE.

      LOOK AT THE CAR INDUSTRY, THEY DO IT ALL THE TIME. LATELY THEY ARE CONFUSED, BUT MANY A GREAT LOOKING AND MOTORING CAR GETS MASS PRODUCED, SO AVAILABLE.

      THE MASONTO HOUSE AT DISNEY YEARS AGO WAS PUSHING THE IDEA, ALONG WITH FULLER DYMAXION DWELLING MACHINE. JEFFERY LINSEY HAD A PLASTIC MUDULAR HOUSE AT THE TIME OF HIS EARLY DEATH. IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE DREAM OF THE ARCHITECT TO DO SO. NOW MORE THAN EVER IT MAKES SENSE, BECAUSE WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY AND NEED TO DO SO.

      GLEN