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Celebrating British Design

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At Iconic Lights, we feel it’s important to celebrate the British designers who have provided the world with some much needed illumination inspiration. The UK has had its fair share of innovative pioneers over the years; and we intend to celebrate a few of them – because they deserve to be recognised, right?

One of our personal favourites is Edward Craven Walker. In 1963, this forward thinker brought us the ‘Astro Lamp’, more commonly known as the ‘Lava Lamp’. The story goes that, while in a pub in Dorset, he spotted a peculiar egg timer. It was made up of a cocktail shaker filled with different liquids that the owners had bubbling on a stove top. Walker used this egg-timer as inspiration and voila, the ‘Astro Lamp’ was born, and is still being produced today.

The Iconic name ‘Lava Lamp’ became attributed to it because the globules of coloured wax inside the early ‘Astro Lamps’ was reminiscent of Pahoehoe lava (which would travel in rippling waves down a volcano.) The genius of Walker’s design is that a bulb provided enough heat to make the wax rise and fall, thus creating a retro phenomenon that took the 60’s & 70’s by storm, and is still an integral part of pop culture today.

We have all seen Pixar’s loveable desk lamp bounce across our screens in the iconic introduction to all of their films. This little lamp is a personification of the ‘Luxo Lamp’; a Norwegian creation that inspired the short 1986 film Luxo Jr. As a result of which, the obsession with this lamp was reborn.

Reborn from what you ask? A legend of UK lighting design who goes by the name of George Carwardine. Born in England in 1887, Cowardine worked as an automotive engineer by trade, commissioned to develop new concepts for vehicle suspension. It was during his time as a freelance mechanic that he developed something so ergonomic, he realised it’s scope was far beyond just vehicles. Thus the iconic ‘Angle-poise’ lamp was born. Working similarly to human muscles and joints, he combined fluidity of movement with a stylish aesthetic, allowing for a light that was highly adjustable and incredibly sturdy.

The Norwegian derivative of the angle poise lamp may have been made famous by American giants Pixar, but George’s lamp will forever be remembered by Iconic Lights as another example of forward thinking, British innovation.

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