I’ve never been a big fan of floor lamps. I mean, I understand the utility – every room needs light and not every room has it built in. A floor lamp bridges the gap without taking up any surface space, all while staying more or less out of the way. But as with your run of the mill table lamp, there are a thousand and one designs out there, but to me they all look more or less the same: Shade, stand, blah. Even decorative models just don’t do it for me. Then, I saw my first arc lamp. Arc lamps are what floor lamps look like when you forget what you think you know about floor lamps, and offer not only a cool modern style, but also work a whole heck of a lot better.
What’s An Arc Lamp?
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I suppose at their heart arc lamps are floor lamps: they have a base, a stem, and a shade. But instead of a boring cloth shade perched atop a rigid metal post, arc lamps are made of huge, curving (or arching – hence the name!) arms with a metal, glass, or plastic dome or shade dangling from the end. Unlike traditional floor lamps which are more or less made to blend into the background, arc lamps are a bold statement piece that’s both physically large and visually arresting. Like a floor lamp they can be placed conveniently in a distant corner out of the way, but because they have long, curved necks, the actual light winds up sitting front and center in the living space, even if the base is pushed all the way to the perimeter.
Instant Overhead Lighting
Traditional floor lamps address the problem of insufficient task lighting – sort of. That is to say, they produce light in rooms that need them. But because they’re often relegated to the far corner of the room and dressed up with a heavy fabric shade, floor lamps don’t always produce as much light as you might like them to. Arc lamps tackle this problem head on by allowing the base of the light to be situated in that far corner while the extremely long arm extends the actual light into the center of the room. Arc lamps are both taller and wider than traditional floor lamps, so the long arm reaches over every obstacle – tables, sofas, chairs, or what have you – to hang the light in a central position, high enough to illuminate the whole space much more effectively. The light is also high enough to be out of the way if you’re sitting or walking past, but low enough to be an obvious and visible decor choice and an integral part of the living space.
Ideal For Apartments
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Because of their unique design, arc lamps are perfect for rooms where a built in flush-mount light or chandelier is desirable but the electric wiring isn’t available, or in a place like an apartment where you aren’t free to modify the existing set up. Very tall, very wide arc lamps can place a lighting fixture fairly close to where you’d have one installed anyway, but without the expensive re-wiring needed to place a built-in light where one doesn’t already exist. A sufficiently powerful, well-placed arc lamp can illuminate a whole room just as well as a generic flush mount, but just as importantly, it looks good doing it.
The New Swing-Arm?
Arc lamps definitely owe some fealty to swing arm lights – it’s a design lineage that’s a little hard to miss. But while swing arm lights often have something of a vintage, industrial vibe (or are made to look more or less like your traditional floor lamp with joints), arc lamps like these ones from Zuo Modern are distinctly modern in style. Made with a single sleek, curving metal base, arc lamps offer the same range and reach of a swing arm lamp but with a continuous, unbroken line rather than a lot of mechanical joints and moving parts. This is very much in line with modern design, which favors simple lines and minimalist designs; the most basic arc lamps are little more than a simple shaded bulb, a curved metal pole, and a weighted base to counterbalance the large, off-center weight. With the base hidden, arc lamps even seem to defy gravity, another favorite trick of a modern design. The cost, however, is that while arc lamps have the reach, and many can easily be swung side to side, they don’t have the same adjustability and mobility of older swing arm designs. The unbroken curve of the arm is very sleek, but much less flexible than a model that’s made to be adjusted and directed with a touch.
Great For A Reading Nook
Arc lamps work great in small spaces like an apartment, but they also work well in larger rooms divided into a smaller areas. Even if the “living room” portion of a great room is well-lit with built in lighting, a game area or reading nook might not be. With a game area, an arc lamp can cast light directly down onto a table without the need for a permanent overhead installation. Arc lamps are also great for a favorite reading chair. Taller, narrower models can be positioned directly adjacent to a comfy chair, arc above it, and shine directly down onto it, offering significantly more and better light to read by than almost any other type of light. Where table lamps and floor lamps are a little limited in where they can direct their light, arc lamps can easily be positioned overhead without getting in the way. And because arc lights are compact but stylish, they can add a lot of design flair to a relatively small space, all without disrupting it, despite the somewhat in-your-face nature of the design.
What do you think of this bold, modern style of floor lamp? Do you like the look? Let me know in the comments below!