lightjunction: trend #4 -- classic designs of the 20th century

Kalmar Dornstab floor light set

lightjunction, our new fine lighting event, will be collocated with designjunction at the Sorting Office on New Oxford Street during Londonn Design Week, 18-22 September 2013

The most significant trend in lighting over the last few years has been the re-issuing of classic designs from the past. All the great architects of the 20th century created lights; they should be available to us and increasingly they are.

The Viennese company Kalmar is 130 years old, so they have extensive archives, that include works designed by Josef Frank for Haus und Garten. They have started plundering them, in order to create their Werkstätten collection. The pieces are beautifully made -- here is a closeup of one of the hooks used to suspend the light in the Dornstab (shown in the image above) that allow you to position it in the perfect position for you to read by:

Kalmar Dornstab floor light reading light detail

Bringing these designs back also boosts our lightjunction trend #2 (carved and polished dark woods).

Also in Vienna, Woka are one of the two most important companies to be bringing back pre-war designs (the other being Tecnolumen, who focus on the Bauhaus and Modernist designs of the '20s and '30s). They benefit from founder Wolfgang Karolinsky's deep knowledge of and understanding of the early 20th century design movements in Vienna -- e.g. the Wiener Werkstätte, the Vienna Secession and the work of Josef Hoffmann.

The quality of both the design and the production of Woka items mean that they are for true connoisseurs. For example, when part of the Palais Stoclet was reconstructed at the Lower Belvedere for last year's exhibition Gustav Klint/Joseph Hoffmann -- Pioneers of Modernism, it was Woka to whom they turned to recreate the ceiling lights.

Here is their beautiful AD7 wall light in polished brass and glass, an anonymous art déco design from 1926:

Woka AD7 wall light

It can be nickel-plated -- or, because they do all the work themselves in their own workshops, they can make special versions for you.

But some of the finest 20th designs are in the collections of Scandinavian lighting companies.

&Tradition have Verner Panton's Flowerpot in two sizes, 13 different colours and finishes, and in various typologies (floor, table, wall). They look fabulous on their own, of course...

&Tradition Verner Panton Flower Pot pendant light red

...but they are also particularly well-suited to being hung in groups:

&Tradition FlowerPot chrome pendant light in a group.

&Tradition's collection also includes this pendant from Jørn Utzon (who designed the Sydney Opera House)...

&tradition Utzon pendant light

...and this reading light (there are wall and table versions too), Bellevue, from Arne Jacobsen:

&Tradition Arne Jacobsen AJ2 floor standing reading lightThe more you study Bellevue, the more realize that it is perfect (yes!): powerfully functional, elegant lines and nothing to be added and nothing to be taken away. To anybody designing a reading light subsequently, its very existence must be as demoralizing as the music of Monteverdi is to subsequent composers.

What are the other Scandinavian lighting companies doing?

Well, Carl Hansen is producing The Pendant by Hans Wegner (he of, inter alia, the Wishbone chair)

Hans Wegner The Pendant lightIt is adjustable up and down, using the good solid handle integrated into the design, that protrudes at the bottom.

Northern Lighting  Has brought back Sven Ivar Dysthe's Butterfly light of 1964:

Sven Ivar Dysthe Butterfly wall lightThere is also a copper version -- see our post about this light here.

Finally, Fritz Hansen have only one light in their collection -- but what a corker! It is Kaiser Idell Luxus by Christian Dell, the German silversmith who ran the metal workshop between 1922 and 1925, when the Bauhaus was in Weimar. Here it is:

Fritz Hansen Kaiser Idell Luxus table light redA post on 20th century classics is always going to have fantastic images of lights in it but, nevertheless, what a great note to end on. IMHO.

And there are other typologies! Here's group of them, chatting at a party:

Fritz Hansen Kaiser Idell Luxus lighting collection

lightjunction 18 22 September 2013


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New early 20th century Viennese re-editions from Woka

Woka Lift tall floor light Die neuzeitliche Wohnung Woka have released another batch of their fabulously well-produced collection of lights from the early 20th Century in Vienna -- designs by Josef Hoffmann, Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos, Kolo Moser, and this stunning floor light that was shown at the Neuzeitliche Wohnung exhibition about modern flats staged in Vienna in 19030/31.

The light can be adjusted up and down as the cable passes through the curved tube at the top...

Woka Lift floor light detail

...the effect of which can be seen in these period pictures:

Woka Lift floor light period images

It comes in polished brass or nickel, is H200cm, W55cm, takes a 60W lamp and costs €3,400.

By the way, this system was obviously appreciated in Vienna at the time, because the Reibe wall light from the Werstätten collection that the 130-year-old firm Kalmar is building from its archive does the same thing:

Kalmar Reibe wall light

But when,  in about 1923, an anonymous designer on the periphery of the Bauhaus wanted to create a floor-standing reading light with the same range of adjustment, they used a different mechanism to create this fabulous machine:

Tecnolumen floor light reading light BH23Woka, Kalmar, Tecnolumen....unintentionally we've got the three most important sources of early 20th century Austro-German designs into one post!


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All you need to know about the Bestlite, in HD, in three minutes...and TTFN!

Gubi Bestlite BL1_black Gubi's current catalogue is called Design Icons Through Time. It truly is "a celebration of design", containing as it does so many genuinely significant lights from the 20th century. That means fantastic designs -- the classic being the cream of the crop when assessed over time. (You can download it here.)

It also puts them at the centre of the most exciting trend in lighting at the moment. They have joined great names like VeniniFontanaArte, Nemo Cassina, Tecnolumen and Woka in making available the finest designs, by the finest designers, from the past.

Their most iconic light is the Bestlite. There is so much to be said about it, but somehow they have managed to encapsulate everything in a film that lasts just over three  minutes.

So I'll just shut up while you watch it....

See what I mean? Not only have you learnt about the Bestlite but you have also had a lesson in the range and depth of what to look for in a classic design.

Fine Lighting News is now off for its summer hols. We may put up the odd post while we are away, but their normal frequency will be resumed on the 10th September.

Even Holly, the Company Dog, is impatient to get away, au pied levé...

Holly the Company Dog raring


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The Bauhaus: BH23 Floor Light with Counterweight from Tecnolumen

floor light with counterweight BH23 from tecnolumen

As will be seen at the major Bauhaus exhibition at London's Barbican, not all the products designed at the Bauhaus are attributable to a specific individual. Tecnolumen have re-ssued a number of Bauhaus lights that are anonymous, including BH23, this wonderful floor-standing reading light with a counterweight.

Here it is, adjusted and in a real space:

Floor light with Counterweight BH23 from Tecnolumen

It shows typical construction details from the early Bauhaus period: wall lights with similar mechanics were designed by Marianne Brandt and K J Jucker.

Having immersed themselves so deeply in the Bauhaus history and aesthetic, Tecnolumen are able to add to their collection lights that were not designed at the Bauhaus but that are in the same spirit. The most famous is the world's finest desk light, with the  balancing system patented by Eduard-Wilfred Buquet in Paris on 9 february 1927 (at just before half past four in the afternoon...) -- the EB27:

EB27 E-W Buquet desk light from tecnolumen

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The Bauhaus: DMB30 by Marianne Brandt from Tecnolumen

DMB30 ceiling light by Marianne Brandt from Tecnolumen Marianne Brandt was one of the most prolific designers of lights at the Bauhaus which, like Wilhelm Wagenfeld, she joined in 1924 to study under László Moholy-Nagy.

This ceiling light, DMB30, is one of series that she designed for Schwintzer & Gräfe, who launched them in their catalogue for the 1928/29 season. It is quite large, at Ø60cm. It is such a cliché to say that it could have been designed yesterday, but it is useful to be reminded how timeless such a design is. It is therefore highly suitable for any project where the interior is intended to last, and not feel outdated during its life.

Other lights of hers are so much part of the current language of lights that it is as if they have always been around -- that no-one actually created them. A good example is HMB25, a metal rise'n'fall:

hmb25 by marianne brandt from tecnolumen

or DMB26, an architypal design, helpfully available as a ceiling light:

dmb26 ceiling light by marianna brandt for tecnolumen

or as, DMB27, a pendant:

hmb27 pendant light by marianne brandt for tecnolumen

Whilst the Bauhaus exhibition is on at the Barbican in London, there will be no shortage of information easily available about the Bauhaus. However, Tecnolumen's commitment to the Bauhaus extends to very useful, relevant and practical information that will always be available on their web site. This includes a bibliography of book and web sources, should you be interested in taking your understanding of the Bauhaus further.

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