- Art & Design
With some one hundred and fifty years of lighting design behind us, it is almost a given that we often opt for vintage lighting. The twentieth century, for instance, was an era of innovation and flair in lighting. Two post-war periods saw an influx of new materials and a desire to move away from traditional designs.
Lighting, perhaps more than any other interior element, will always need to have optimal function and appearance. An important functional breakthrough came with the development of task lighting at the beginning of the previous century. Task lighting was designed to support specific activities, from reading to sewing. Vintage lighting is often divided into three types of styles: Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and mid-century modernism. Art Nouveau lighting is characterised by stained lampshades, organic shapes, arched chandeliers, and beautiful decorations. The most famous piece from the period is undoubtedly the iconic Tiffany lamp, today a highly sought-after collector's item. In turn, the era of grandeur and opulence echoed Art Deco lighting, with bold brass details, sculptural shapes and excessive decoration. From fringed shades to etched glass ornaments, this vintage lighting style remains very popular to this day. Finally, the post-war period brought forth the design ethos of mid-century modernism. Focused on the sweet spot where form meets function, this movement used innovative metals to shape some of the most sought-after lighting styles of the twentieth century. Goldwood, studio craft floor lamp mid-century modern
One of the lamps we highlight here is this ethnic-inspired huge floor lamp designed by an unknown artist in Europe, presumably in 1990. The craft and materials used are of high quality. For instance, the solid palm wood sticks are tied together with rope and leather cords, resulting in an ethnic and primitive feel.
George Nakashima, Kent Hall Floor Lamp
For the next vintage design, we would like to take you to renowned designer George Nakashima. In 1945, he opened his woodworking business simply to earn a living using the skills he had learned as an Eagle Scout in the Pacific Northwest, as an architect in the Far East, and as a woodworker in the Idaho desert. The designer started his furniture business as a reactionary movement against the practice of twentieth-century modern architecture, design, and art. His work called for a reclamation of the philosophy of earlier historical periods in which the human eye and hand defined an individual's world in relation to the universe, not the universe itself.
Punch the Clock, table lamp
Next, this brutalist stone table lamp from the 1970s was inspired by the style of Albert Tormos, a French artist who developed lamp sculptures he made from solid stone from Luberon. A sculptural masterpiece in our opinion. Isamu Noguchi, Akari
The oeuvre of Japanese-American artist and designer Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) is extraordinarily versatile. Besides sculptures, he created stage sets, furniture, lighting, interiors, and even squares and gardens. As a sculptor, he was interested not only in materials and forms, but also in spatial effects and interior design. Noguchi wanted his art to fulfil both a practical and social function, and his sculptural style had a lasting influence on the organic design of the 1950s.
Goldwood, Pierre Jeanneret standard floor lamp chandigarh
We also highlight a teak lamp by iconic designer Pierre Jeanneret, from 1955. A two-light lamp, known as "standard lamp", made of solid teak, with two reflectors of embossed aluminium plate, one painted black and the other red. The central axis is tapered and crosses with an arm at the top supporting the two domed lamps at either end, facing in opposite directions.
Galerie Vauvart, floor lamp
Svend Aage Holm Sorensen, a Danish designer from the 1950s, known for his unusual organic style designed this elegant rod floor lamp. It is made of teak and brass, and the base has a black lacquered metal fork. The shade is made of rhodoid and gives off a warm light.
One thing is certain, a unique collector's piece is never lost.
Kingsman Design, pendant lamp
The combination of orange and white plexiglass with the wooden accents works very well. The two plexiglass sections are held by the wooden structure, creating a surprising contradiction between the two materials. The lamp has a UFO shape and lights up tremendously, which makes this piece fit perfectly in modern but also retro and vintage interiors. Supposedly, the lamp is Swedish and made in the 1970s.
Maison Cedric, Georges Pelletier ceramic floor lamp 1970
Finally, we end with a very nice ceramic lamp, signed by Georges Pelletier and dating from the early 1970s and characterised by its rattan shade and brown bands. Those familiar with the work of this Belgian ceramic artist know that his floor and table lamps are more than they appear.
Meanwhile, vintage designer lamps are on the same level as designer furniture such as a coffee table, sofa, or chair. A high-end interior with quality pieces includes sophisticated lamps. Some models remained in production for longer, while others are much rarer and exist only in a few copies. These then also fetch prices that skyrocket. But one thing is certain, a unique collector's piece is never lost.
Header image: Goldwood by Boris, Craft floor lamp
Image 2: © Kingsman Design
Image 3: © Punch The Clock
Image 4: Galerie Vauvart, Svend Aage Holm Sorensen
Image 5: Goldwood by Boris, Pierre Jeanneret, Standard floor lamp chandigarh
Image 6: George Nakashima, Kent Hall Floor Lamp, 1965
Image 7: Maison Cedric, Georges Pelletier ceramic floor lamp 1970
Image 8: Isamu Noguchi, Akari BB3-33S, 1952, The Noguchi Museum Archives, 03069, photography by Kevin Noble © The Noguchi Museum / ARS
Text by Elke Aerts