Illuminating History

Illuminating our workspace, and giving light to our ideas has been the purpose of the trusty table lamp for just under 150 years. The history of designer table lights is linked closely with the great design trends of the last century. It is possible to date a certain style exactly by simply looking at what lamp is on the table.

With the advent of the industrial revolution in the 19th century came the rise of new roles in a highly mechanized workplace. An industrial designer was responsible for coming up with the draft version of a product which could then be mass-produced by industrial machinery.

This new job coincided with the invention of numerous modern electrics which we take for granted today. In 1878 the incandescent lightbulb was invented and become commercially viable thanks to parallel work by the inventors Thomas Edison and Joseph Swan. These two would go on to form the Edison and Swan United Lamp Company in 1880, the first major manufacturer of table lamps.

The great artistic movements that were to follow during the 20th century saw the design of many wonderful varieties of table lamps and lighting fixtures. Art nouveau in the early half of the century was responsible for a myriad of designs, many of which featured lavish, floral ornamentation and intricate patterns.

There then came a period known as modernism. Here the emphasis was not so much on grandiosity in design but form and function. Table lamps from this era were more rationalized, simplified forms of lightning. All the while the central idea was always that mass production was still reconcilable with individual artistry.

Finally, there is the ever-present art deco design. In some ways a culmination of earlier aforementioned styles and design movements, the resulting table lamps are some of the most ambitious on the market.

Always consider your table lamp carefully. History has shown that this object can be the central component of a whole design for your workspace.