The 7 Lamps of Making : Dean Brown

The 7 Lamps of Making re-visits John Ruskin’s essay The 7 Lamps of Architecture, as a guide for 21st century making – translating 19th century craft theory into a contemporary design project. Ruskin used the word “Lamps“ to mean guides. These “Lamps” are objectified as tangible examples of the 7 guides in practice – as critical objects that embody the enduring principles of good craftsmanship.
Adopting the vocabulary of the Maker Movement the project renders the principles relevant to makers now – using readily available democratic tools and materials such as 3D printing, LED lighting, laser cutters and kit electronics. The 7 Lamps of Making places the New Maker Movement in historical context, recognizing and disseminating the relevant craft values that have, and remain, necessary to make things of quality.


Text © Dean Brown / The 7 Lamps of Making | Photography © Shek Po Kwan / Fabrica


1. The Lamp of Sacrifice


A lamp cut and folded, seamlessly from 1 piece of paper ­ the most basic building material pushed to perform through ingenuity. It acknowledges Ruskin’s first principle to go the extra mile to craft ordinary things, such as paper and LEDs, into something greater than the sum of there parts “preferring always what is good of a lower order of work or material, to what is bad of a higher”.



2. The Lamp of Truth


Built from copper strip­board, LED’s, Resistors and open battery pack ­ The lamp of truth is explicit and honest in material and structure using only the essentials and nothing more. It acknowledges Ruskin’s second direction to be truthful about how something is made, revealing and celebrating the conductive copper board as the base material, which is used in most electrical products, yet is typically hidden inside a casing.




3. The Lamp of Power


The Lamp of Power aspires to be powerful yet enigmatic. It embraces Ruskin’s 3rd principle to assert presence through simple pure lines and monolithic form – “In striving for Sublime we must abandon decoration in favor of weight & uninterrupted scale”.



4. The Lamp of Beauty


Collected branches define the structure of the lamp, joined together by 3d printed parts that become an extension of the natural elements. The Lamp of Beauty aspires to Ruskin’s 4th principle which asserts that the highest beauty can be found in natural forms.





5. The Lamp of Life


The Lamp of life is concerned with worth through hand-made human qualities. It is a hand carved version of a torch, which is normality something we would associate with being machine made. It embraces Ruskin’s 5th principle that prioritizes the attitude of the maker over skill “putting their heart into what they do, and doing their best, it matters not how bad workmen they may be”.




6. The Lamp of Memory


A critical approach to a long lasting product – built from discarded plastic bottles, quickly used and dumped, yet with an extremely slow rate of biodegradation. The Lamp of Memory responds to Ruskin’s 6th principle by rejecting the short lived and aspiring to preservation and longevity “to stand as long as human work at its strongest can be hoped to stand”.





7. The Lamp of Obedience


The Lamp of Obedience is concerned with being creative within the rules – made respecting existing standards, in this case using ISO paper sizes A4, A5, A6 & A7. It is built from strong foundations up and adheres to Ruskin’s 7th and last principle by exercising restraint “while a measure of license is necessary to exhibit the individual energies of things, the fairness and pleasantness and perfection of them all consist in their Restraint”.




Concept & Design:
Dean Brown
Shek Po Kwan / Fabrica
Project Details:
The 7 Lamps of Making
Supported by Fabrica

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