yggdrasil

August 13, 2021

A lamp designed to mimic the organic warmth of a willow tree.

Yggdrasil was the senior thesis of my lighting design concentration. It's a table lamp designed to be a comforting presence - a glowing, warm, organic sculpture to sit naturally in the corner of a room, or just as easily in the center. The rich orange tones of the natural South African padauk hardwood glow under the light of the bulbs, exuding a subtle warmth.

Yggdrasil's design has gone through several iterations before ending up at this final model. Feedback was taken from classmates, furniture makers and woodworkers, and the lighting design team at Target corporation.

The design of Yggdrasil took an entire semester, with a great deal of that time spent researching, iterating, and gathering feedback. The final layout was an evolution of prior designs, but with greater mechanical achievability, a simpler form, and greater consideration given to the propagation of light. The construction of Yggdrasil is fairly simple, with the arm being made of multiple CNC-routed sections epoxied together with a hollow cavity in the middle to allow wires to run through to the bulbs. The bulb sockets are held in the arm by a small lip, and epoxied for durability.

The wooden slats around the bulb were harder to attach, primarily since the bulbs obviously had to be replaceable, and therefore the slats had to be removable. My solution was to glue the slats to two collets, both of which would split in half to allow removal, but lock stoutly around a wooden flange on the arm.

During construction, I ended up replacing the interlocking mechanism with a simpler magnetic clasp. This proved less time-consuming to construct and more user-friendly.

Yggdrasil is currently under construction. While there have been some challenges and unexpected setbacks (mainly due to COVID-19 restrictions on campus), the assembly itself has been fairly by-the-book. After cutting the segments on the CNC router, I soldered my wiring connections and used a dab of hot glue to keep them in place while I epoxied the segments into one continuous arm. The base was attached with wood screws and glue.

The profiles of the wooden slats were laser etched into a flat board of padauk before cutting them out on a jigsaw. I then sanded one side of each slat round while leaving the other side flat. The slats were then screwed and glued onto the collets, which I simplified by replacing the interlocking fingers with magnets to hold everything together.

I am now completing final assembly and surface finish work.

Yggdrasil is the Norse tree of life. It connects the realms and roots them together. I named this project Yggdrasil because I wanted it to contribute to the space in much the same way: a uniting, central element which fills the space with life and warmth. The body wends its way upward and then over, delicately suspending three pendants which grow in size as they get further out on the limb. Yggdrasil is warm and soft with no modern pretentiousness or edge. Its form is meant to mimic that of a willow tree branch. Made of South African Padauk hardwood, it glows with a rich red-orange color under a dark stain.

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