How A Car Designer Invented The Modern Desk Lamp | Decolight

Whilst there are many different designs for luxury desk lamps, the vast majority of them have a specific practical design.

They tend to have a floating arm design which allows them to be used in multiple directions and allows for varying light levels and functionality, whether someone needs a small spotlight for fine details or a broader beam to bathe the entire desk in a light with a different intensity from a floor lamp or ceiling light.

Interestingly, the original design of this lamp came at the hands of George Carwardine, a car designer who specialised in vehicle suspensions. Inspired by how a suspension system uses springs and tension to help soften bumps in the road, he came up with a range of design ideas.

One of these, later known as Anglepoise, was less useful as a suspension design, but he quickly realised could be applied to other fields, particularly as a type of task lamp, as it could be moved into a variety of different positions easily without the need for a clamp.

There is a myth that the lamp’s design was based on how the human arm worked and attempting to mimic its functionality, but that has never been proven, and the design was likely refined based on practicality above anything else.

Carwardine, using his Cardine Accessories company workshops, decided to manufacture the lamp himself, but quickly found himself swamped with orders to the point that he needed to partner with another company, Redditch’s Herbert Terry and Sons, to keep up with orders.

The laps were famously used in British bomber craft to allow for the planning of attacks, were infamously banned from the BBC in 1949 as part of the Green Book guidelines designed to eradicate vulgar and degenerate material from television programmes, and have still seen use to this day.