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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Anglepoise - A 20th Century Design Classic


There are so many different kinds of lamps on the market; it's hard to believe the most popular one is a design classic that has been around for decades. It’s a testament to the original design, which has been instrumental in popularising the industrial trend. It’s a stalwart of so many design studios and creative spaces that sometimes I think it goes unappreciated - which is a shame as it's my favourite piece of 20th Century design.  

The Anglepoise was designed in England in 1932, by engineer George Carwardine. He owned a factory that made suspension systems for cars. In his workshop, Carwardine invented a new kind of spring that was incredibly flexible but stayed put with a decent amount of tension when held in position.

The original design, Model 1208, was intended only for industrial and some commercial purposes, but it soon became apparent that the 'Anglepoise' could be successfully marketed for use in the home and office. 

The lamps were immediately successful, and within a couple years, Carwardine was producing a number of different models specifically designed appeal to a domestic consumer.

My favourite is the Type 75 Anglepoise, the more agile offspring of the Model 75, which was reconfigured for the 21st century using precision engineering. Kenneth Grange, the visionary designer behind the Kenwood Chef and the Kodak Instamatic managed to create a noticeably more fluid motion whilst staying true to the original design.

Since 1986, the Anglepoise has had a special place in popular culture. It was the subject of the Pixar Studio’s first short, Luxo Jr. - watch it and you'll see the two main characters are Anglepoise desk lamps. It's now the Pixar mascot which you see appear in the opening credits of Pixar movies.

I currently have one sitting boxed up in storage waiting to be given some loving care. One day I’ll actually get round to handing it over to restoration gurus 30 Something to deal with! I’ll keep you updated on my progress….

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