I’ve always been drawn to the tranquility of Tadao Ando’s architecture. For this project, I wanted to create a lamp inspired by his work that evoked those feelings in miniature.
One of the most striking features of Ando’s architecture is its materiality, a palette almost exclusively limited to concrete, light, and air. The result is quiet poetry – improbable spaces pitched between buttery rock and crisp beams of light. Walking through his spaces is a transformative experience, like wandering into another state of mind.
While Ando harnesses natural light to craft his spaces, I wanted to bring a slice of that tranquility to even the most mundane spaces, to the “white box” living spaces many of us call home. To achieve those effects without calling for new windows or walls, I began exploring the possibilities of light emitting concrete.
I prototyped different methods for driving light through concrete, testing additives like plastic beads and clear epoxy resin (above). The most magical effect came from embedding fiber optics, which allowed a seemingly ordinary piece of concrete to glimmer with tiny stars. It also allowed me to create a dotted grid pattern reminiscent of Ando's characteristic concrete treatment:
CASTING THE CONCRETE
It took a few iterations to design an effective mold. In the final version, pictured below, I built a cavity, core, and insert using foamcore coated with shipping tape for quick release. The cavity and core formed the thin walls of the shade, and the insert left space for an acrylic diffuser, added after the concrete had cured: