We’ve never actually owned a lava lamp – so were very happy to receive one of the new, limited-edition versions produced by the original manufacturers Mathmos in collaboration with Liam Gallagher’s men’s fashion company, Pretty Green.
The Astro lava lamp is such a design classic – the idea of Edward Craven-Walker who founded the Mathmos company. The name ‘Mathmos’ actually comes from the French comic strip, Barbarella (later made into the cult classic film starring Jane Fonda). Mathmos is the bubble liquid force under the city – the choice of name becomes obvious when you see them in action. Introduced in 1963, it was an instant success, an icon of sixties and seventies interior décor. Their appeal has really stood the test of time. There have been all kinds of innovations and special editions, however the basic principal remains the same – and Mathmos is still going strong over 50 years later.
We opted to receive the pink and orange colourway for our Astro lamp. The lovely warm glow filled the room from the moment of plug in. As the lamp heats, the contents come to life. Initially stalagmite-like shapes form – then the classic globules develop. These globules gently rise, split apart and fall back down. Then they do it all over again, with slight variations to the movements and shapes formed each time. Edward Craven-Walker likened it to a repeating life cycle.
The atmosphere and warmth that they give to a space is quite unique – and they’re mesmeric to watch of course. If you’re in the mood to relax, there’s a little 2 minute clip below – just long enough to fall under its spell! (P.S. If you hear heavy breathing in the background, that’s Fudge our dog, not Justin falling asleep whilst holding the camera).
When it comes to lava lamps, don’t be tempted by lesser imitations. The brand authenticity, quality of materials, colour intensity and lifespan are all important factors that make the classic Mathmos the only real choice. In fact replacement bottles, bulbs and bases mean that your Mathmos lava lamp should last a lifetime.
Robert Sonneman (b. 1942) is a New York City-based lighting designer. He began his career at the tender age of 19 as the sole-employee at George Kovacs, a shop located in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
His designs are influenced by Modernism, most notably the Bauhaus movement. As the man himself says:
I’ve always been fascinated with movement, weight, and balance. I saw the lamps that I built as lighting machines that glorified the industrial aesthetic. As modern design and architecture morphed into other genres of contemporary style, I also explored new creative paths.
In 1967, he founded his own company under the Sonneman brand which became SONNEMAN – A Way of Light in 2003.
He’s very prolific (1,600 designs and counting!), with his contemporary designs available extensively; from his own store and other upmarket retails outlets such as YLighting. His vintage designs are readily available on 1st Dibs and sometimes come up for sale on Etsy and eBay.
Find more of our Designer Desire features here!
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We often write about industrial lighting of the vintage variety; task lamps that have been rescued from the mills, factories and workshops of the North of England. Not everyone likes vintage – some people are happier with new versions that have the look, and are in mint condition and spotless. We were contacted by PIB to review one such item – their industrial duty hand lamp.
Sometimes you can view items online and they look great, but then when they arrive you’re disappointed by the quality. Definitely not the case with this item. It’s got weight and solidity to it, with nice detailing and an excellent finish. It’s a good large size too, measuring 45cm in length.
The bulb cage is made of silver-plated brass with a stained wooden handle.
We’re big fans of this type of lamp as they’re both functional and attractive, adding a touch of vintage industrial style to any space.
They’re also very flexible when it comes to use.
There’s the practical task lamp facility to start with – a lamp that can easily be moved around the house, garage or workshop for bright, directional light.
And when it comes to decorative use their are a host of options. They can be hung from the long flex and attached to the ceiling, they can hang from wall mounts and hooks – or they can simply lie flat on shelves and tables. There’s no risk of fire or damage as the cage protects surfaces from the direct heat of the bulb.
We’ve been trying it out in various sites this week and have become very fond of it already.
We’ve got lots of dark corners in our house, so it’s going to come in useful. It also works well with other industrial look pieces that we have.
It’s most definitely a keeper!!
We’ve had lots of these classic Herbert Terry Anglepoise lamps over the years, but we’ve never had a box fresh example before. In fact, we’ve never seen an original box until now.
The earlier, stepped-base Anglepoise lamps have firm followers, but this early 1970s version also has devoted fans… and, along with the very similar 1960s Model 75, it’s probably our favourite shape. This site will show you the various Terry-designed Anglepoise lamps available to hunt out – or help you date your own vintage Anglepoise.
This Model 90 is available in a variety of colourways. As you can see from the packaging, it’s mushroom grey in this case.
Some people like their vintage homewares with a bit of wear & tear – others prefer to search out pristine examples.
If you’re the latter, this could be the lamp for you… fully working, and hidden away for 40 years. We can’t guarantee it’s unused, but it certainly looks it!
If some of the rooms in your home are on the dark side and could do with brightening up, there are lots of different tricks you can use to bring sunlight indoors.
Installing a skylight or Velux-type window has one of the most dramatic effects possible, allowing sunlight to flood in from the open sky above. They really can transform a space from dark & dingy to light & airy. There are lots of attractive blinds on the market specifically for this type of window from manufacturers such as Roofwindows.co.uk.
Mirrors are a great, inexpensive way of increasing the amount of sunlight coming into your home. Placed strategically opposite a window, they bounce and reflect light around a space. They work especially well on dark stairways and bathrooms.
Various companies have developed interior wall paints which contain light-reflective particles. It’s a subtle, clever way to maximise natural light entering the property.
Glazed doors (both exterior and interior) can make a real difference to the amount of light entering a house and dispersing it throughout the rooms contained within. B&Q have a huge range of glazed doors – traditional, folding and sliding. Similarly, glazed wall panels can divide up larger open plan spaces – creating defined zones for living without blocking light. They’ll need to be made of toughened glass if safety considerations demand it of course – small children or boisterous pets running round, for example.
If you have a room that is windowless and at the centre of the house, you can easily fake natural sunlight these days. There are now specialist bulbs on the market that mimic sunlight, illuminating your room with a sunny glow.
Remove unnecessary partition walls
If it’s not load-bearing, removing a wall won’t require the installation of an RSJ – and should be relatively inexpensive. If it’s made of plasterboard rather than solid stone or concrete it’s even easier! Removing walls between kitchen and dining rooms has become common practice. One of the major benefits of this is to allow light to flow between the front and back of the house. Other common areas where this can have a dramatic ‘opening up’ effect is the hallway, landing and larder areas.
Can you think of any other great ways to bring sunlight indoors? We’d really love to hear your thoughts.
This fabulous floor lamp came into our lives recently.
It’s by artist, Bernard Rooke and dates from the 1960s/70s period. Bernard Rooke was born in 1938. He attended Ipswich School of Art and Goldsmiths College, London where he took up pottery. He set up a workshop in Forest Hill in London in the 1960s, sharing the space with Alan Wallwork whose work we have sold in the past. Bernard’s pieces are very sculptural and he found that producing lamp bases made his pieces even more acceptable and accessible for the public to have in their homes. They’ve remained a mainstay of his output over many years.
There are bulbs both at the top and internally, and this gives a great effect when illuminated – light diffusing through all the little holes and casting shadows on the wall behind.
We’re now on a hunt for the perfect shade. It has to be Hessian or raffia, we think – and a fair old size too – the lamp base itself stands 3½ feet tall. Let us know if you have one for sale or know where there’s one lurking. We currently have around five lamps that need shades, but this one’s probably top of the waiting list!
We’ve placed the lamp in our bedroom where it shares the space with other studio pottery from the same era. We like these little groupings of pots. They’re all in quite subdued tones of brown, beige and oatmeal so don’t shout for attention, but we love these subtle variations in colour, shape and texture.
The lamp has real impact when you walk into the room. It has the potential to work well in all kinds of settings – from boho-chic to mid century modern. In addition to working well with the other pottery in the space, we also like the way the circular form is echoed by the cane mirror. There’s a classic 1960s starburst clock on the wall close by too. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we really love it. And we know a good friend of ours will be eyeing it up jealously (and we have to admit that it would look perfect in their house)!