decor, lighting

design icons: the aj lamp by arne jacobsen

Born and raised in Copenhagen, Denmark, Arne Jacobsen made a significant contribution to the Functionalist movement of the 1920s. It's hard to believe that his modern AJ lamp was designed in 1960, making it almost 60 years old, but then again, we know that good design never goes out of style – and this light proves it.


As a trained architect, Jacobsen was always drawn to design and soon became a successful all-round creative, producing furniture, lighting, wallpaper and even trying his hand at landscaping. His most famous works include the Ant chair, designed for Fritz Hansen in 1952, as well as the Egg and Swan chairs.


The AJ lamp is a classic example of Mid-Century Modern Scandinavian design. Originally created for the SAS Royal Hotel (now the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel) in Copenhagen, it even influenced the hotel's overall aesthetic. Its asymmetrical head tilts to provide an adjustable light source for a study or reading nook, and although the cut-out circle on the base was originally designed to accommodate an ashtray, the addition now contributes to the lamp's unique and stylish look. Today, the AJ lamp forms part of a broader family of fittings that includes floor and wall lights.

What now?

The manufacturing rights for the AJ lamp family are currently under the licence of Louis Poulsen, a design company in Denmark that produces the fittings in 10 different colourways. Designs of this calibre don't come cheap though, so expect to pay around R12 000 for this iconic masterpiece.
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