I’m a big believer that lighting should always do more than one thing. Sure, the most important job of any lighting fixture is to produce light, but if it doesn’t look good doing it, I don’t think it deserves a place in your home design. Anything from a permanent ceiling fixture to a simple table lamp should be given every bit as much thought as the rest of your decor, but other than the entryway chandelier, people often don’t give a whole lot of thought to the lighting they install. Personally, I think this isn’t merely an oversight – it’s a missed opportunity. With so many beautiful designer lighting fixtures out there, something as seemingly simple as a table lamp can actually become a chic focal point for your space – provided you take the time to choose one that looks good!
One of the biggest mistakes people make, especially when it comes to table lamps, is assuming that most lighting fixtures are more or less the same. After all, the words “table lamp” probably conjure up a pretty clear image in your head, right? A simple base, a central shaft of some kind or another, topped off with a lamp shade. Maybe the shade has purple polka dots, or maybe the base has some pretty detailing, but beyond matching colors and patterns, choosing one doesn’t require a whole lot of brain power. That is, until you start to question that definition of a table lamp. Just one lamp shade? This one has three. Does it do anything for the quality or quantity of light the lamp produces? Well, honestly, no. But every guest who sees it is going to do a double take. That means that instead of a generic reading lamp or basic source of light, you’ve instantly got a statement piece – a simple yet surprisingly effective conversation starter.
Back To Base-ics
Lamp shades can be dressed up in a huge variety of ways – different sizes, shapes, numbers, colors, materials, and so on. But there’s also a lot of room to have fun with the base of the lamp, too. I’m willing to bet you’ve seen at least one lamp with a dolphin-shaped stand, and ridiculous as that might be, it’s a good example: pretty much as long as the design is tall enough and narrow enough to support a lamp shade, you can probably find a lamp in that shape, whether you’re hoping for a bag of golf clubs or a driftwood sculpture. These range from kitschy to striking, and can be used either as an expression of your own personal taste, or as something a little more daring. Depending on your taste, this Artemis lamp could probably qualify as either – a gold plated polyresin rifle acts as the main base of the lamp, creating a posh urban grunge that acts as an instant focal point of any room it’s in. Bonus? When the light’s turned on, it not only illuminates the room, but highlights the fine detail on the “gun.”
Some of my personal favorite modern designs are ones that brazenly steal from antique form, take it apart, and make it entirely new. Many modern lighting fixtures use this technique to create a eye-catching, double-take inducing appearance, like these Salon table lamps. Made with clear plastic cutouts in the shape of highly traditional table lamps, right down to the “pleating” on the plastic lamp shade, these offer a clearly tongue-in-cheek re-imagining of the fixture. All the parts are right, but in pink, blue, gold, silver, black, and red, they’re every inch a bold modern statement piece. You can find coordinating chandeliers in similar styles, but personally I like these lamps just fine by themselves, as they present a perfect opportunity to add a playful pop of color to a living space, as well as adding a little extra light.
Battle Of The Bulbs
Believe it or not, even the bulbs can be a unique design feature in a modern table lamp. If you’ve spent any amount of time looking into modern ceiling lamps, this is probably a trend you’re at least partially aware of, but many designers have begun to put a strong emphasis on the bare bulb. Now, I don’t mean that lonely lightbulb hanging in your garage or attic, but it isn’t all that different, either. Chrome-coated bulbs on long, colorful cords have become a sort of contemporary chandelier, and even table lamps are picking up on this trend, made with unique-shaped or finished bulbs, an unusual number of bulbs, or bulbs in a non-traditional placement – especially without a shade. The Pulsar table lamp from Zuo Modern is an example of all this – an asymmetrical, slightly retro starburst of lights that definitely serves as a table lamp, but looks like a whole lot more.
Finally, there are some modern table lamps that ditch the whole notion of what a table lamp ought to look like and start over from the ground up. The function remains: you plug in a compact fixture that capable of partially or completely lighting a living space. But the style is totally different. I’ll use this gorgeous Eruption lamp as an example, but it’s by no means the only unique design out there. This one in particular replaces the traditional base, shaft, and shade with a simple glass cylinder. The bulb is mounted to the back of the fixture with a cord that drops down behind, but from the front, it appears as though the simple globe of light is floating. This is a petite light, and ultimately a very simple one, but it’s so amazingly modern and elegant its simplicity that I find it – and other innovative designs like it – utterly irresistible. After all, what would you rather have: a light that makes light, or a tiny, personalized piece of art that makes light?
But what do you think of these modern table lamps? Do you like the slightly more daring look, or do you prefer something simpler and more traditional? Let me know in the comments below!