Astronomea: a gorgeous, handmade, astronomy inspired desk lamp


Originally published at:


Wow. It’s…hideous.


Yeah, I like the concept behind it, but I’d like to see the third iteration of that concept. This is a bit clunky.


I would like to see how this is supposed to work, but in the meantime maybe just stick a light bulb on this thing?


Another agreement. That’s just ugly.


I like it.


The has the Star Trek:TNG “I’m visiting my friends on Earth and this is a and this is a genuine futuretique” aesthetic all over it. It’s like the McMansion of space lamps though:

  • No less than 3 bases to sit on
  • 8 feet, not all on the same level, for the bases to sit on
  • Mismatched color on switches and dials
  • Multiple shades of black, brass, etc. (I am not convinced it is a photographic artifact.)
  • Drawn in fine details, tick marks, that are flat

That all written, it is a beautiful art piece, commissioned by NASA nonetheless. I don’t have to like the art, but the fact that we, through government programs, are still commissioning and supporting artists and art is fantastic. The planetary and lunar details are neat, and are what make it interesting to me. That along with the artists narrative as to how they were attempting to include several ideas at the same time.

I’m betting most of my observations are due to cost and finding materials. The cost of plating everything to a matching metal would be ridiculously expensive and ultimately may speed decay. Though the 3 bases and the off the shelf switch that doesn’t have a custom brass cover (compared to the two next to it) bothers me for some reason.

I’m going back to quarterbacking from and armchair now. Perhaps it will grow on me as I look for an armchair.


Thank god. When I saw the word “handmade,” I thought this would be yet another insufficiently attainable, unspeakably expensive item that I would end up coveting.


Who paid for it??


You are being too kind.

And WTF is the deal with the base?


Base #2 looks the best. They should have stopped while they were ahead.


I uh… like it. Opinions… we all have them. :slight_smile:

For me, I quite LOVE the ugliness of it, the weird way it’s put together, the odd pieces and angles. I’d buy one if it were affordable and on the market. The only thing I would change are the knobs/switch on the bottom, which don’t seem to reflect the same quality as the rest of the piece.


This is what happens when things are designed by a committee.


Expecting to see a model of this on thingiverse in a week or two.


@Deadwriter./Alfred: It was a private, personal commission. No commercial electroplating. Acid plating in studio. Never “match” brass finishes! Matching is for chumps. @KogunKogun: Intentionally clunky- just like 19th centruy telescopes. (Look for “non-clunky” in your favorite “Design Within Reach” catalog, unless you’re finally fed up with “clean, crisp, mid century”). Modern art is invariably hideous to the uninitiated masses. BTW: HATE "ST/TNG! which had all the balls of a PBS After School Special complete with a touchy-feely social worker :slight_smile:


I’ll disagree with you about TNG. Thank you for unexpected the reply. You took the criticism well. It’s still a neat clunky looking lamp, just not for me, or DWR. I liked the clunkiness. You know what I didn’t like. In the end, you sold and made a functional art piece. That is more than most observers will do in their lives. For that alone, I hold you in high esteem.


@Deadwriter: And what an unexpectedly nice reply to mine! Thank you.


But a serious response to some of the comments.

In the three months I was working on this, there must have been dozens of iterations called: “permutations”). Since this was a client I had great respect for, I wanted to impress him.

As the design grew, what was originally visually “shocking” became quite sedate looking. The base, for instance. It was first the tapered post on a plano/convex maple turning. It took me forever to get it nice. But it needed, “more” visual oomph as the weeks wore on and I became accustomed to looking at it. That’s what happens in the visual arts. The shocking becomes staid…

So I started researching what happens to old observatory telescopes as technologies advance through decades and are added to the original design. The telescopes develop kind of like a “Frankenstein-ed” technical appearance . That’s what gave me the idea to stack up the bases.

And so it went until it was completed. Even the addition of “planet” bulbs. Kind of over the top. Kitschy, if you will, but visually unique.


Man! If anyone ever got clobbered to death with this thing, the wounds would leave the investigators in forensics scratching their heads for months.


The controls (in fact, the design of the entire base) remind me of some super-high-end turntables where the goal is to use simple, high-quality, robust, “industrial” hardware that would last forever. If not the look, the feel of such controls would add to the overall intent of the piece.