A short history of the Anglepoise lamp 05.05.20

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The recognisable Anglepoise lamp quickly became popular because of its mobility and simplicity

Famed for its power, precision, portability and sense of personality, the Anglepoise lamp has been a staple of the home office for almost 90 years.

The friendly-seeming lamp’s origin was at the hands of the British automotive engineer George Carwardine in 1934, a specialist in vehicle suspension systems. After the firm he worked for went bankrupt, Carwardine began experimenting with springs and levers in his garden workshop in Bath. It was there that he created a new spring-and-lever mechanism, which stayed in postion when moved or twisted.

Attaching a lamp to his mechanism, Carwardine created a prototype light. This could be repositioned at almost any angle and height yet remain held in that position. The heavy base stabilised the lamp, and its shade focused the beam of light, allowing it to be remarkably energy effiient for the time. 

Carwardine approached a spring manufacturer in Worcestershire named Herbert Terry & Sons with his design, and the company took on the lamp in order to diversify their offering to the market. 

Herbert Terry & Sons produced the first Anglepoise lamps in 1934. Known as model 1208, it used four springs and proved instantly popular. It was swiftly followed by a second model, the 1227, which had three springs and an Art Deco-style tiered base. It was a streamlined varaition of this version, with a two-tiered base and a wider shade, that became known as the archtetpical Angelpoise lamp. It reamined in production for over three decades.

Anglepoise Lighting Ltd became its own company in the mid 1970s. Over the years, there have been several other versions of the Anglepoise lamp. The Model 75 had a rounded base and a fluted shade, the Apex 90 model had a modular jointed system so that it could more easily be assembled at home. More recently, the original lamp design has been revamped and the Type 75 was released. This iteration has a close resemblance to the original prototype that Carwardine first brought to the company. 

In 2003 British designer Kenneth Grange gave the lamp a contemporary twist with the Anglepoise Type 3, and other collaborations with designers such as Margaret Howell and Paul Smith have also been released as limited editions. It has also made a cultural impact outside design, as the mascot for the animation studio Pixar, whose logo is introduced with a personified Anglepoise lamp before each film. Functional, distinctive and solution-led, the Anglepoise remains an icon of design.

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