David Fay Custom Furniture
Light and Shadow Lamp sketches photo of actual lamp
Images from Article

Home Furniture Magazine

June/July 1997

By David Fay
Computer-generated image by Red Melon Studios
Photographs by Dan Hruby and Jon Binzen

Drawing is not my favorite activity. But in custom furniture making, presentation is critical. Luckily, over my drawings, they plug in the information and generate a three-view drawing and then an isometric view. As the piece comes to life on the screen,I end up with impressive drawings that are easily understood by potential clients. The whole process takes about three hours of computer time.

Recently, events led me to push the process one step further. I wanted to enter the California Design '97 show, which required the submission of a photograph. Unfortunately, the lamp that I wanted to submit was not yet made—and there was only one week until the competition deadline! I called the CAD technician at Inertia Studios in San Francisco, where I have my computer renderings done. He said that we could scan the actual materials for the lamp into the computer to create "virtual furniture." This rendering could then be made into a photographic slide by a service bureau.

The first step was to construct CAD three-view and isometric renderings of the lamp from my preliminary sketches (see drawings). We then scanned in samples of the ebony for the lamp's posts and rails, copper banding for the hoops, and the paper for the shade, hand-made by my sister, Leslie Fay. The scanned materials became the palette to fill in the isometric image.

The next step was to use ArchiCAD software to put the lamp's image in a room-like setting. We decided to place the lamp on a textured marble surface, with a white wall behind it. Then, the computer was able to simulate a light source inside the lamp to visualize the light and shadows cast on its surroundings (see the computer photo). This process took an additional four hours.

The resulting image was remarkably realistic--convincing enough to persuade the jury of the show to accept the piece before it had been built. I just hope the real thing delivers on the promise that the computer made.