University of Iowa Honors Theses

Thesis Title

Metal Floor Lamp

Major Department

Art, Studio


College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Fall 2017

Honors Major Advisor

Kee Ho Yuen

Thesis Mentor

Monica Correia



Yiwen Chu

Fall 2017

Monica Correia

School of Art and Art History

The project is about making a floor lamp with CNC (Computer Numerical Control) technique, with the exploration of form, texture, color and shape of different materials. This target requires the knowledge from the class, the machines available at school as well as research of undiscovered problems. The product of the project is aiming to be functional and also having a certain degree of design to make it unique from the other floor lamps that already exist in the market.

The process of the project is a circulation of design, research, manufacture, discussion, and revision, with large proportion of changing and development. At the very beginning modeling in the modeling software 3ds max, the idea was to make the lamp with one stem in the middle attached with twenty pedals containing light bulbs that go along the stem. But then thinking about the way of production in industrial aspect, the design was not very efficient. And at the same time, when doing the research, a similar lamp with the idea of spine was found online. After that, the focus shifted to the material. Metal sheet became an idea of the main material because of its nice reflection of the light and its modern-looking texture. Another real-life model was built in quarter size with aluminum flash sheet and transparent pedals, with a twelve-inch long led light inside. This time the sheet was rolled into a cylinder and the purpose of transparent pedals of plastic was to let the light go through. But then during the discussion, the pedals became a question of not functioning much. The pedals were taken off after that, and to stress the simple shape of the lamp, some plastic rings with curved inner cuts were designed to hold the metal sheets. The metal sheet then can stand on itself. The research of finding the proper material of the actual size was tough. The ideal material was reflective metal sheet thinner than thirty gauge, the dimension was supposed to be at least forty-eight inches by forty-eight inches, however, after failures of finding the material in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, the requirement of the material changed slightly with the changes of the design. Instead of having it in a whole sheet, the material became ten inches by fifty inches, which can be achieved by buying rolls of aluminum flashing. The plastic rings were drawn in Auto CAD and then cut in laser machine.

In this project, computer drafting and machine manufacturing were well-presented. The searching of the material pushed me to go hunting in areas that I’ve never know before. For example, to find the thin metal sheet, I drove to Cedar Rapids to a metal factory searching the material. However, they don’t sell that thickness of metal sheet anymore and those big factories don’t usually sell retail small quantities. Also, considering the interaction between the large-scaled lamp and its environment was also a learning process, where to design the opening and how to make the lamp having a front view but three-dimensionally interesting viewing required lots of thinking and revisions. All in all, I learned a lot and had a rich experience.

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Copyright © 2017 Yiwen Chu

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