Where math and design meet in the middle to create something new

“When will I ever use this stuff!?” – a common question amongst many young math students. Though math never carried this frustration with me, I am constantly surprised at how essential arithmetic and geometry are to design and fabrication. Measuring twice and cutting once, estimating quantities for material orders, planning design to reduce waste, and figuring out how to make a new product that no one else fabricates. This is my element and the mathmatics thrill me!


Project Details

Client Grind Coffee Project Task Design + fabricate a lamp shade When Winter 2017 Where Fort Lauderdale, FL

One of the first steps in how to design design a custom lamp shade was to figure out what material we would be using. The coffee shop where these lamp shades would hang had a few existing metal elements. We were most inspired by an old aircraft wing turned work desk in an ajacent room. We decided to make the shades out of sheet aluminum with rivet details.


I used this online cone calculator to nail down the sizing of the shades based on some rough measuements we took and how large we wanted the lamps shades to be hangin over the coffee bar. The formula to create the cone is dirived from the arc of 2 circles with the same center point and different radius. I made a series of paper templates and kept refining until I had the exact size/shape I was after.


I digitized the deisgn by recreating my template’s measurments in Adobe Illustrator. I also incorporated part of the coffee shops logo as a cut-out into the part of the lamp shade that would wrap around and connect the 3D shape together.

We partnered with a local metal fabrication shop to have the sheet aluminum cut. The final shape that was cut included the flat conical design, cut-out of the logo, and holes for the rivots used for making the shape three dimentional and an attachemnt point for the pendant socket hanger. The metal was preshaped with a series of metal rollers.

By the time the metal was cut – all the hard work was done and building the shades was fun and easy.