From dutiful servants, to whimsical, decorative centrepieces; table lights are a diverse product group that showcase all the different approaches to design and all the different combinations of functionality and aesthetics.
Take Fritz Hansen’s ‘KAISER idell™ | 6722 - T’ designed by Christian Dell: this Danish reading light is made of high-quality, high-gloss steel and has become a modernist classic since it was first launched in 1931. Conversely, Gabriel Teixidó’s ‘M-3335 cornet’ for Estiluz is a contemporary reading light that comprises two cones, one serving as a base, the other containing LED lighting elements.‘Wittgenstein table lamp’ designed by Josef Hoffmann, and now manufactured by Woka, is a traditional brass, hand-hammered table lamp launched in 1905.
Dieter Rams and Andreas Hackbarth designed ‘RHa 1 desklight, manufactured by Tecnolumen’, a reading table lamp that combines thin aluminium rods and plastic connective elements. Verner Panton’s ‘Fun Mother of Pearl 1TM | Table lamp’ wraps multiple canopies made of mother-of-pearl discs around the light source, creating diffuse light and sparkling effect. Isamu Noguchi also experiments with materials, and covers the lightsource in a rounded membrane made from Shoji-paper in the Vitra-manufactured ‘Akari A1’.
Eero Aarnio’s ‘Hello’, manufactured by Studio Eero Aarnio, is an internally illuminated, polyethylene sculpture of an open hand and represents a more whimsical approach to design. So does ‘Cynara’, a table lamp designed for Bublo by Lorenzo Antonioni, where a clay lampshade can be suspended above a flower pot, thereby accelerating the plant’s growth. NEXT Architects’ and Aura Luz Melis’s ‘Slow glow lamp’ for Droog shows a similarly conceptual approach, whereby the bulb is submerged in a flask of vegetable fat, which melts and lights up slowly when the light is switched on.
Karim Rashid’s ‘Halo’ for Artemide mounts a round, silicon rubber light diffuser onto metal base with built in LED lights. Finally, Philippe Starck combines traditional table lamp form with moulded plastic light diffuser and a chrome-plated steel base in Flos-produced ‘KTribe T2’.