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Interior Design Icons: Lighting Edition

When it comes to making your lighting design decisions, here's a tip: Go iconic.

What is it about a modern lighting fixture that takes it from a basic light source to an interior design icon? It needs to encompass ingenuity, originality, elevated form and function, and everything in between. These pieces are as famous as the renowned designers who created them.

From mid-century to today, here are some of the most iconic modern lighting fixtures that represent the best in design.

The whimsical pendant light that many DIY enthusiasts have attempted to replicate.

Designed in 1999 by Bertjan Pot, the Random Light became an immediate bestseller when it was released in 2002. Its seemingly simple, one of a kind, playful yet sophisticated design explains the pendant’s lasting popularity.

Based on the original design of the Random Light, the Random II Pendant Light transmits a feeling of simplicity, softness, and a touch of magic in a contemporary style.

In 1948, designer George Nelson began thinking about how to design a durable and inexpensive lamp that would produce a soft, glowing light. Nelson’s inspiration for what would become the iconic Bubble Lamp collection came from an interesting place: a photo in The New York Times showed the decks of ships being put into storage and

covered with netting and self-webbing plastic. Nelson found a manufacturer of the self-webbing spray and tested a plastic-covered light that became the Saucer Lamp.

It quickly turned into a symbol of modern living in the 1950s and remains a timeless classic to this day.

A classic masterpiece, the PH Artichoke was first introduced over 40 years ago. First designed for the Langelinie Pavillonen restaurant in Copenhagen by Poul Henningsen in 1958, the PH Artichoke still lights the restaurant today, solidifying its modern lighting legacy. The lights “leaves” produce a glare-free glow, purposefully concealing the light source in the center, no matter where you look at the fixture from. An icon of quality, much of it is constructed and assembled by hand.

Movement was the inspiration for the Mantis lamp designed by Bernard Schottlander. The collection is a tribute to the work of Alexander Calder, creator of the first mobile and of whom Schottlander was a big admirer.

The design uses an ingenious system of counterweights, flexible metal bars and a metal-spinning technique that amounts to the chic sculptural design that effortlessly floats in the air.

In 1962, designer Achille Castiglioni was looking for a light to hang over his dining table but didn't have an electrical outlet. The Arco Floor Lamp, with its long, arched metal stem was his brilliant solution. He made the base out of Carrera marble which gave it stability and weighing in at 160 pounds, it’s one of the heaviest floor lamps on the market. To make it easier to move, Castiglioni designed a hole in the base through which one could push a broomstick and be carried by two people. Today, around 1 in 10 Italian homes boasts an Arco lamp.

For expert lighting tips and design advice, be sure to check out the room-by-room lighting guide.

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