No more boring lamps

A lamp’s light is a luminous hug, so take its design beyond the ordinary. Go rogue. Create an origami figure out of the traditional script paper.  Specify unique opportunities with lamps.

Lamps are one of the best avenues to create that “just right” feeling. But why? Indeed, a great deal depends on the light in a room.  Lamps provide light to read by or mix the martini.  They provide a low light for watching that scarier-than-you-expected-but-can’t-turn-off horror flick.  They also, and most importantly, set a mood. Lamp light is the glow you walk into upon unlocking your door after the restaurant.  It is a light that casts marvelous shadows against the walls, furniture, art, and us. We can’t forget that phrase, “Let’s dim the lights, sweetie.”  Ha!  That is always a good signal.  A lamp is how light demonstrates affection to humans.  


Am I taking this too far? I think not. I have a sculpture artist in me.  This is why I enjoy designing household objects.  My favorite items to design are lamps.  Imagine the magnificent glow and shadows of lanterns and candle light before electricity.  Sure, I am romanticizing a tad. But isn’t that the point? Lamps allow the specter of a sculpture designer to creep to the surface.  

Lamps are an integral design moment.  A solid lamp composition selection and a well-executed placement will render the lamp “sculptural art” with function.  Even if the lamp needs to be a subtle moment in the room, the composition of the lamp, neck, harp, finial, and lamp shade are of the utmost importance.  The following few paragraphs will consider how to accomplish a lamp as an ethereal mood and sculptural moment.


Shades are a missed opportunity. We have all sorts of flared, drum, printed, and colored shades. You know, the basics. Could you imagine if the shade were in the shape of an avocado or an autumn gourd? There are thousands of gourd shapes and endless possibilities! The gourd’s top and bottom would be cut off to allow light to escape upward and downward.  This gourd would be fashioned out of some form of fabric.  What if we used parachute fabric!  I am old enough to remember parachute pants. Perhaps the shade is not fabric at all, but an iridescent and colorful blown glass accented with fabrics or bits of metals. Could you imagine that? The “formed shades” would allow light to escape in different directions, creating a unique glow and set of shadows.

Lamp bodies

Now, imagine if we selected the lamp’s body to compliment the shade.  The body could be slim and cylindrical, bulbous, or boxy.  Each would create a different look.  Each would create a unique moment paired with a unique shade. Something special. Do not be afraid to select or specify the “random.”  Lamps are simple electrical objects.  This gives us some room to play.  Start by looking at the objects in a home.  Perhaps you want a lamp shaped like an antique milk jug you found while vacationing in New England.  That would make a lovely lamp base.  Perhaps you turn a bookcase Bose speaker from the 1980’s on its’ side and discover a rectangle with some cut-in sides and missing corners.  The prospects are limitless.


See Also

My son and I painted a fish using lemon wedges, and other fruit as stamps.  I love this little piece of art as my son was four years old when we did the workshop at a nature conservatory.  I have decided to take that “painted” fish image and print it on the front of a lamp base.  This lamp is still in the developmental stage, and I think we have a unique item that will complement many coastal rooms.  I am also concepting a medieval castle lamp.  I took a castle image, turned it on its end, and left the random windows and other openings in the composition.  It’s fun and, I think, specifically uncommon. I will include a few images of the lamps I have recently conceived for this medieval castle and the boyhood painting.  


Material is my next consideration.  What substance is used to create the lamps?  There are more glass and ceramic lamps in circulation than U.S. pennies.  Perhaps we could consider the body of the lamp cast out of a reed material; we could use hollow concrete; what if we source one thousand cattle skulls? OK, that is macabre, but I think you get my drift.  We must challenge ourselves to design from a material that has not been designed in the past to create the body of a lamp.  I wish we had more moon rocks on Earth.  Perhaps I should contact Elon Musk.

I know that most lamps are not constructed to be heirloom items.  That does not mean they cannot feel like something you want to pass down to the next generation.  As interior designers, we want to challenge ourselves to source magic.  It is what we do.  We discover the special.  We create the unique if the special is no longer special.  Object designers and manufacturers should challenge themselves in the same way. So, I challenge you:  Discover Special.

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