lighting

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Image features a car with bright headlights is shown driving across a bridge at night. Lights in the distance are reflected in the water. A light bulb is encircled in the upper right-hand corner, emphasizing the product the car is utilizing. At the bottom of the poster appears the brand name PHILIPS in large orange block letters with white dashes. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Illuminating the Road Ahead
When Louis C. Kalff was hired by Philips in 1925, the company was one of the largest producers of lightbulbs in the world. Kalff created a brand identity for the company, including the iconic logo. For this poster, Kalff illustrated a car whose piercing bright headlights illuminate the scene. The stylized arcs and angles reflect...
This image features two candelabra, featuring a standing female figure of patinated bronze supporting branched gilt-bronze candle arms, each arm in the form of a winged female figure; the branches are surmounted by a patinated putto/faun standing on a column and holding an urn-shaped bobeche; square gilt-bronze base with a scene of Europa and the bull; a patinated winged female term stands at each corner. The female figures stand on a gilt-bronze plinth. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Luxurious Lighting
Today’s Object of the Day is on view in Tablescapes: Designs for Dining (October 5, 2018–April 14, 2019). These two candelabra in the neoclassical style, with their detailed sculptural work and multiple candle branches, would have undoubtedly brought abundant golden light as well as a sense of luxury to any early 19th-century interior. They were...
Showing the Way: A New Light on Old Skills
One of the most wonderful mixtures of new technology-electricity-with elegant hand-crafted materials, in this case glass and metalwork, is this table lamp. It shines forth with the strength of electricity but uses soda glass to create a glow more associated with a pre-electrified era. William Arthur Benson, who was trained as an architect, took up...
It Starts With A Napkin
This is an early concept sketch for the lamp “I Ricchi Poveri – Silver Bzzzz” by the “poet of light” Ingo Maurer. The lamp is part of a small series through which Maurer has sought to play on the natural attraction to light in nature. In the design for “I Ricchi Poveri – Silver Bzzzz,”...
Uplighting, Deco Style
Two rare Art Deco period catalogues, newly acquired by the CHM library, include illustrations with accompanying specifications and cost for more than 100 glass lighting fixtures manufactured by Meissner Glasraffinerie of Dresden dating circa 1930.  Their factory was located at Coswig on the river Elbe situated between Meissen and Dresden, Germany. Not much is recorded...
Gravity’s Shadow
Electric lighting has existed since the late nineteenth century. Some of the earliest forms exhibited fine Art Nouveau-era workmanship, while decadent Art Deco forms arose in the mid-1920s. A functional, industrially-inspired modernist aesthetic grew in popularity from the 1930s onward. But to my mind, the 1960s was a time of some of the most inventive and clever lighting design, especially for home interiors. Looking to developments...
Blue-purple toned long cylindrical shaft, with knurled grip section, topped by narrow tulip-shaped head with clear lens. Removeable circular cap at end unscrews to reveal battery housing; spare bulb stored in cap.
Mini-Maglite
Although now familiar tools used during power outages and camping trips, personal flashlights were revolutionary in the early twentieth century. The invention of the dry cell battery in 1896 enabled the first non-combustible lighting devices, allowing for safer handheld options than kerosene and oil lamps, candles, and torches, or other instruments previously powered by liquid...
Poetry and Posters
Russian-born designer Alexander Gelman worked in the United States during the 1990s and early 2000s. His simple icons strive not so much to capture the essence of a subject, but rather to offer an off-kilter view of it. Here, a table lamp represents a poetry reading. The illustration is, one might say, beside the point....
Ceiling-hung light, the segmented artichoke-like form with copper leaves supported on metal framework.
What Lies Beneath The Artichoke?
Poul Henningsen’s childhood was illuminated by the glow of gas lamps. When electricity arrived in his small Danish hometown and left his neighbor’s windows ablaze with the stark glare of electric light bulbs, Henningsen began to grapple with a design quandary that would come to define his entire career. He was determined to calm the...