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June 21, 2015
This is the second in a 3-part series covering the rise of the mid-century design aesthetic, and its influence on lighting design - both during the mid-century era and today.Backtrack to Part 1: Rise of the Mid-Century Design Aesthetic
By the 1960’s, the mid-century modern style of furnishing was in full swing. Around this time, state-of-the-art materials such as plastic laminates, fiberglass, and latex foam were being introduced into the market, and designers started experimenting with these new materials to create more radical designs.
The ‘Atomic Age’ in design reflected both the space race of the time and concerns about nuclear war. Scientific motifs, futuristic forms, and highly stylized shapes became popular in architecture, furniture, and home decor.
The color palette of the 60’s was more distinctive compared with the previous decade, which embraced a broad range of hues and finishes. The 1960’s saw teals, oranges, greens and yellows being widely incorporated into contemporary homes.
Lighting during this era took on more sculptural and organic form. Designers began deconstructing the traditional shapes of lamps and experimenting with bold new silhouettes, made possible by the new materials being pioneered in the construction and manufacturing industries.
The following are some internationally well-known light fixtures and designers working in this period, which created lamps that were highly sculptural yet functional. Some of these light fixtures are still in production today, which speaks to their timeless design and originality.
The Sputnik chandelier was created in 1960, three years after the actual launch of the Sputnik space shuttle. The futuristic form of this lighting fixture, with its multiple splayed arms and expansive effect, made it a staple decor element of the period.
The Sputnik chandelier is perhaps one of the most everlasting lighting silhouettes and is experiencing something of a renaissance in home furnishing. Check out our roundup of DIY Sputnik Chandeliers for ideas on how to make your own!
Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni were the creators of the Arco Lamp: an innovative lamp which combines the practicality of overhead lighting with the visual weight of a floor lamp. The marble plinth on this iconic lamp weighs roughly 200 lb, and is needed to balance the structure (both physically and visually)!
Famous for using black painted metal, in a subtle style while also being highly functional. A skilled metalworker, Serge created audacious and polished lighting fixtures which are both dramatic and minimal!
A famed industrial designer (perhaps best known for his namesake coffee table), Noguchi also created some lighting designs typical of the Atomic era.
Stay tuned for the third installment in this series, which discusses why MCM furniture & decor remains an enduring decorating style today, half a century later. Subscribe to our newsletter to get a notice when it goes live!
September 30, 2023
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