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Lamps Through The Ages

Throughout time, trends come and go. Most people follow things like fashion trends and social trends closely, but everything changes – even lamps. While it may not be at the top of minds, lamps have seen a lot of changes throughout history. Whether in style or composition, the lamps that were popular in the 1900s look much different than the lamps of today.

Of course we are fascinated by this history and decided to make a compilation of lamps throughout the years. With electric lighting well on its way, we begin to see the lightbulb make its way into homes, where lamp design and construction really evolves. Take a look at the many different decades of lamps.


Though officially introduced in 1879, it took some time for incandescent lighting to find its way into our homes. Like many new technologies, it could first be seen within businesses and stores. Its design was crude and basic as society adjusted to the new change. Eventually, though, lamps begin to become more aesthetically pleasing. In the early 1900s short, boxy styles were popular. Handcrafted glass and bronze finishes were prevalent.



During this decade lighting design still much resembled designs of gas lighting fixtures. Brass or bronze fixtures with glass shades were still prominent. Mission and Art & Crafts styles were very popular as well as Colonial. Simple, straightforward architecture was key.



In this now iconic decade, rich, decadent colors like gold and burgundy could be found in lamp designs. Metallic brocades and painted finishes were popularly used as well. This decade was all about glamour and lavishness. Interior design began to take off as a profession. Angular shapes and exotic touches were commonly found.


During this decade styles became more streamlined and somewhat modern. A lot of art deco influence was apparent, which meant a lot of red, black, sliver, and golds. Chrome and Bakelite, a type of plastic, became popularly used in lamp construction.


The popularity of art deco-inspired style carried into the 1940s, especially due to the shortages caused by the second World War. Geometric patterns, glass shades, and incorporation of natural woods were prominently featured in lighting fixtures.


Post-war houses were constructed much differently. Homes were smaller, which meant stacking and using lighter furniture and accessories. Styles mirrored that of American diners: bubblegum colors and curvy shapes. Animal prints, surrealism, and “space age” design were popular as well.


This is the age of flower power, rebellion, and pop music. All design was heavily influenced by Swinging London. The space age continued and psychedelia took form. Most design fell into one of these two categories: hippie, ethnic or plastic, outer space-like.


During these years the space age mania still prevailed, but society took a funky-kitsch spin on it. Bold, colorful design was apparent everywhere. Shag, cork, and wood paneling were popular as well as color choices of brown, orange, and cream.


Metallic accents, reflective surfaces, and colorful artwork are huge influencers for this decade. A few styles existed including ‘80s modern, which was very minimalist, Memphis-Milano, which incorporated a lot of geometric design, and ‘80s deco, that revived some of the ‘20s and ‘30s use of art deco.


In the 90s shabby chic style and Arts & Crafts design were popular. Large print patterns and nature-inspired ornamentation also found their way at the forefront of home design.


Once we entered the new millennium and our tastes reached some of the modern ones we see today, lamp design became sleeker, simpler, and cleaner.