September 1, 2011
As Little as Possible
Dana Cannam’s Clamp Lamp uses minimal materials for maximum sustainability.
In 2008, for his first project as a new master’s student at the Design Academy Eindhoven, Dana Cannam was asked to make something entirely out of wood—it was “a get-to-know-the-workshop kind of thing,” he says. Unexpectedly, however, that early piece of experimentation has since grown into Cannam’s first mass-produced design, a wooden task lamp that’s being released by the San Francisco manufacturer Pablo this month. (It almost didn’t turn out this way—Cannam’s initial idea was not a lamp but a fruit holder.)
In the transition from prototype to final product, Cannam had to make some compromises, but the simplicity of his concept has remained intact. Indeed, the final lamp appears so simple that you can almost miss just how clever its details are—only by testing it out do you realize that there is no mechanism involved in securing the clamp or raising and lowering the LED arm; the pieces are held in place by the precise dimensions of the woodwork, which allows just enough play for movement. At trade shows, Cannam has found that once he demonstrates how this compression-fit system works, people get sucked in. “It becomes more of an experience piece,” he says. “It’s not flashy, or something that you get right away.
I think you can appreciate it on different levels.” Here, Cannam describes some of the nuances of his understated Clamp Lamp.