The whole structure is made of old corrugated cardboard boxes and a few other fasteners from sustainable and recycled sources. It's low-impact stuff. The non-eco-neutral parts are the electrical bits, but these all stay discrete and complete enough that you can reuse them for other projects when you get tired of this.
One of the main purposes of this is to show how good corrugated cardboard is as a material - it excels as a free prototyping material (can often use instead of foam-core), can be easily sawn or cut with knives or sanded and is light and easy to handle, but is also strong enough to make certain kinds of finished product from. It isn't toxic and doesn't make dust when you cut it, so it doesn't need a workshop either. It lends a guilt-free disposability to a product, since it is intrinsically so easy to recycle (biodegradable even, if it never gets to the recycling centre), and by rescuing it from an early demise you've already extended it's lifespan considerably. It's free if you know where to look. Seriously, a lamp like this is what packing boxes dream of being made into.
The vast majority of this lamp is paper-based, and paper is easily recycled and biodegradable. The board has already been recycled at least once. It's not a half-hour project to construct this lamp, but then, that's usually the way with re-use. Instead of the embodied energy going into running a giant machine to make an injection-moulded product in a factory thousands of miles away, and flying it here, the embodied energy come from your muscles and your brain, and is gradually injected into the product over the course of a few evenings of attention.
This project was something I did initially in a rudimentary way many years ago, and then have recently been developing further - spurred on by the promise of easy fabrication services (a la Ponoko http://www.ponoko.com). Because I've got the materials to detail the design process, I'll do that too and show how I arrived at the design using a few sketches and whathaveyou. If you just want the cold, hard facts, and none of my sparkling insight and shady drawings (I never was very good at the sketches), jump straight to the how-to on step 5.
Step 1: The Brief
This led to a number of conclusions pretty quickly:
1. The lamp needs to be adaptable - because it must be able to light a room enough for relaxing, for entertaining, and also to be bright enough to be usable when you actually need to be able to see things.
2. The lamp must be cheap - simply put, students don't have a lot of money.
3. The lamp must be reasonably neutral in style - Student's rooms aren't designed from scratch by interior designers, and while some might be contrived (you know the usual, mirrorballs, pink fluff and walls full of photographs), most are generic, and the lamp can't be so stylised that it'll look odd.
I've attached a few sketches that I did of what are, essentially, characterised angle-poise-type lamps. These met the brief of being adaptable - and then some, and I loved the idea. I admit I have a number of pet "things" I like to see in products, in things. One of them is the idea of a mechanical creature - a development perhaps of having a skeleton displayed (which was a staple of tv scientists laboratories when I was younger) - and these first sketches tapped into that theme nicely. I was reminded gently by my lecturer that one must be careful not to be "cheesy", and that is an extremely valid point. These kinds of design broke rule 3 by their nature.
The second sketch shows a rough working-out drawing for a modular system based on a number of lit cubes with connectors on all sides. The theory being that apart from one which would be connected to a transformer, these could just be fairly simply thrown together, and where they touched, they lit, and so light could be controlled very easily by just adding more cubes, and it could be removed by taking cubes away. Direction of light could be changed by turning the cubes, or by stacking them high, and intensity by making rows rather than clusters.
A third idea (not shown) had the lamps on a wire track system just like a lot of low-voltage lighting, but the lamp units themselves were motorised and could drive along the wires like railway tracks, and so light could be very easily moved to certain areas, and pointed certain directions, and furthermore they would be, by default, autonomous, and would drive about as and when they please. The complexity and cost of this idea was prohibitive, but I admit I still love it in concept.
The last sketch shows a petalled, nesting kind of shade.