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Design classics: Anglepoise 1227 lamp

March 1, 2011

This month’s entry into our Design classics series is the Anglepoise 1227 lamp which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary.

The initial version of the lamp was designed in the early 1930’s by George Carwardine, an automotive engineer.  He had been studying the connection of balancing weights and springs and designed a lamp that could be placed, and would remain, in almost any position – his research was based on the principal of the tension of human limbs.  His initial thoughts were to use it in his factory, the flexibility would be ideal to allow his factory workers to focus light on specific components they were working on.

After he patented his spring design he approached Herbert Terry & Sons to manufacture the lamp, the company made the springs he used in his factory.  Although the initial design was based on using 4 springs, in 1932 a 3 spring version was designed for the domestic market and the Anglepoise 1227 lamp was born.  The lamp became an instant success with desk users and it’s popularity grew.

Interestingly if the Trade Mark Registry hadn’t rejected his initial name choice we would now have Equipose lamps not Anglepoise, his first choice was not accepted as it was an existing word.  The initial model remained in production for over 30 years, with some slight modifications along the way – including a change from the initial base with 3 square tiers to a base with 2 tiers in the late 1930’s. 

The reliability of the lamps was demonstrated in 1986 when a WW2 Wellington Bomber was lifted from Loch Ness and the Anglepoise light on the navigator’s chart table still worked – although a new battery was needed!  In 1979 the Anglepoise even featured in the pop charts when The Soft Boys composed a song called ‘I want to be an Anglepoise Lamp’.

In 2004 a Giant Anglepoise was produced for the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Buckinghamshire, UK, and a second Giant was then bought by Tim Burton at a charity auction.  The publicity generated by the first two lamps convinced the company to add the Giant1227 to their product line.  The Giant1227 has a reach of 2.8m, the shade has a diameter of 50cm and it retails for around £2,200.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the 1227 lamp it was reissued in 2009 and it’s status as a design classic was acknowledged when it was featured in a Royal Mail set of stamps celebrating British Design.  Other classics included Concorde, the Mini and the Spitfire.

We recently used a Type 1228, designed by Kenneth Grange, in a study project for an investment banker.  The green from the shade added a splash of colour to an otherwise neutral room and complimented his antique desk.

The Anglepoise 1227 thoroughly deserves its place in our Design Classics.  The simple design has stood the test of time and it remains not only a highly functional lamp but a well designed and stylish object that has earned a placed in many interiors.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 1, 2011 7:54 am

    A true design classic! I love it – it is one of my favorite lights.
    It is a wonderful example of form and function working in harmony.

  2. March 1, 2011 8:10 am

    Fascinating facts Andrew! Sure enough I have one of these on my work desk, it is so useful for reading when the room itself does not need lighting. The larger version looks fun too!

  3. March 1, 2011 11:12 am

    Interesting piece Andrew, I’ve admired that oversized lamp for a while, I believe Graham & Green have a paired down version for £145, it’s not as nice as the original but needs must in these times of austerity.


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