A design so iconic that it’s considered on par with London’s Routemaster bus and Underground map, as well as the very first Mini Cooper, the Anglepoise lamp is a favourite of Sir Kenneth Grange, who describes it as ‘a minor miracle of balance’. Grange is the mind behind famous designs like the Kenwood food mixer and the Kodak Instamatic camera and has been the design director of Anglepoise since 2003.
Hailing from Bath in Britain, George Carwardine practised as an automotive engineer for many years – and he was very successful at it, too. Carwardine worked as the chief designer for the Horstman Car Company, which went bankrupt in 1929. By 1934, he’d started his own business called Cardine Accessories. From then onwards, he pursued his long-standing fascination with using springs, cranks and levers to balance weight. To develop a practical desk lamp that could be shifted into a particular position and would then stay there until moved again, he used special springs made by Herbert Terry & Sons in the 1920s. Little did he know that this would become the reason for his legacy today.
The first Anglepoise lamp was made in 1933 and made use of four springs. It was regarded as too industrial for the domestic market and so Carwardine gave it a second look, working with the designers at Herbert Terry to come up with a three-spring version for home use. This model was well received and became known as the Anglepoise Original 1227.
Between 1939 and 1944, Anglepoise navigator lamps were developed for World War II bomber planes. More than 40 years after the war, a team of American Loch Ness monster hunters salvaged a Wellington bomber submerged in the lake’s mud. Despite it having been underwater for almost half a century, its Anglepoise lamp was still in good condition and is now being exhibited – along with the bomber plane – at the Brooklands Museum in Surrey, UK.
The Anglepoise lamp is still being manufactured today and in South Africa it’s available from Newport Lighting. Over the past few years, Anglepoise has collaborated with designers including Margaret Howell and Paul Smith; a colourful current version created by Smith of the Type 75 model is especially striking and retails from R6 423. The Anglepoise range now includes desk lamps, wall lamps, oversized floor lamps and even outdoor versions, which are made from marine-grade materials.
Visit anglepoise.com for more details.