November 20, 2018
Combining Steel and Clay, the Pyramid Lamp Is an Updated Take on Craft
Created by Brooklyn design studio In Common With, the fixture plays up contrast, juxtaposing the slickness of a machined base with the hand-hewn rawness of the shade.
There is an appealing awkwardness to the Pyramid table lamp by design studio In Common With. RISD alumni Felicia Hung and Nick Ozemba play up contrast, juxtaposing the slickness of a machined base with the hand-hewn rawness of a ceramic shade.
Pyramid is, as Ozemba puts it, “kind of this living entity.” Its brown clay shade was originally press-molded by hand. Working with a ceramicist through an iterative, intuitive process, the studio refined proportions and the clay body composition, ultimately crafting a limited run of ten pieces. But the pair wanted to offer the lamp to a wider market, leading them to produce a second, slip-cast version, which launches this month.
Swapping out press molding for manual slip casting maintains the shade’s natural idiosyncrasies while cutting back on materials and labor. The custom slip mix includes manganese for a speckled surface, retaining the original’s rough appearance. Says Ozemba of the unglazed shades: “They come out of the kiln, and that’s that.”
KIT OF PARTS
“We designed the collection as a system, which allowed us to make parts of it more affordable. The thing that’s unique about this product is the pyramid shape that combines something that’s heavily machined with something that’s completely handmade.”
“We didn’t want a manufactured slip-casting process. Somebody is physically pouring slip—which is a liquid ceramic—into a plaster mold. The plaster dries as much of the clay as it’s touching. The longer you leave it in, the thicker the ceramic gets. So there is a bit of a handmade aspect to it, because not all of them will be exactly the same. The thickness may vary; the way they dry might slightly change their shape.”
MIX IT UP
“We bought a bunch of raw slips and then we bought some things that you mix into the ceramic, because we want it to still have a toothed texture. It’s not a supersmooth ceramic piece, but rather something that feels a little bit more earthen and handmade.”
“There’s a metal piece that we attach into the shade. The ceramicist drills out a little circle that doesn’t go all the way through the clay, and then we glue a little metal piece that we’ve machined into that, which has a threaded connection like a screw, which we attach onto all our metal components. When you look at it from above, it looks like completely seamless ceramic.”