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A concrete lamp for the budding Brutalist

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I wanted so badly to touch the cold, matte surface of an aesthetically versatile object


It’s hard to ship and hard to the touch, but I’ve got a soft spot for concrete stuff.

Until I began working at a design and architecture website, it hadn’t occurred to me that concrete was a material meant for more than buildings—let alone that there was a whole world of Brutalism lovers who wanted more of it.

Last year, when I read about a prefab, energy-efficient, transportable concrete micro home called Koda, I realized I’d never wanted anything more.

But as I must do when it comes to most things that I get really into—salt bagels, gel pens, relationships, and now concrete home goods—I asked myself: How much is too much?

A concrete prefab home for $125,000 is too much.

Instead of buying a new home, I went on a hunt for trendy items for my current home. So far, I’ve ogled a concrete espresso machine, a concrete house-shaped outlet, and some wonderful, wild concrete vases.

But $799 for an espresso machine that I would inevitably stain with coffee and $175 for what was basically a bespoke extension cord were, again, too much.

I wanted so badly to touch the cold, matte surface of an aesthetically versatile object. After three days of Googling, I decided that a desk lamp would be a good place to start.

I began the search for a concrete desk lamp small enough to fit on my nightstand. And I wanted one lightweight enough that it wouldn’t cost a fortune to ship.

This postmodern Step Lamp caught my eye. But upon closer examination it became clear that the lamp’s base was made of porcelain. Porcelain is not concrete.

David Umemoto’s Table Lamp no. 1 was a wonderful Escher-esque find. I figured I could position it vertically or place it on its side and never know which way was up. But I needed a lamp, not a $375 sculpture posing as a lamp.

Cierto Studio’s totem lamps are utterly magical. I don’t just love these lamps because they look like piles of pastel meringues; I love them because they’re totally customizable and easy to reassemble. But I didn’t pull the plug, as they were over budget by about $50.

Target also makes its own version that comes in a set of two. I only really wanted one.

I finally landed on this concrete lamp from a shop on Etsy. The shop offers different shapes and colors and bulb combinations. I paired my chosen lamp with a “squirrel cage” filament bulb.

I spent $87.10 on the lamp with the bulb and another $27.44 to ship it. The total: $114.54.

At 2.6 pounds, it’s one of the lighter options I’d encountered. It gives off enough light that I can read in bed without straining. And the yellow cable is a nice touch.

I even tried setting it down on my roommate’s concrete coffee table, but that was, I decided, just too much.

Sam Reichman is a producer and editor on Curbed’s video team.