Illuminating Mad Men…Mid-Century Modern Lighting and the Floor Lamp
With the season finale of “Mad Men” fast approaching, before my thoughts stray from Don Draper and the 1960’s to other topics, I would like to indulge my love of mid-century modern furnishings and focus on mid-century lighting, particularly floor lamps. John Slattery”s character, Roger Sterling, has great iconic lamps in his office, including a Nesso table lamp on his desk (according to a couple of web notations, the Nesso was designed by Giancarlo Mattioli, Gruppo Architetti Urbanisti Citta” Nuova in 1967, and it is manufactured by Artemide).
There is also an arched floor lamp, an Arco floor lamp, that was originally designed by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni in 1962, and is sold today by FLOS. The image below with the lamp and chair, is not in Roger”s office, but gives a sense of how well the lamp works with other furnishings.
I used a version of the same lamp, sold by George Kovacs, in a 2010 living room design, shown below and also included in my portfolio.
I often have clients ask how they can make their interior space more comfortable, and one huge aspect of comfort in interior spaces is lighting. How we perceive our space is so important – just as physical comfort is important. “Lighting 101” informs us that there are 4 specific “duties” for lighting: “…to provide decorative, accent, task and ambient illumination.” (From “Residential Lighting: A Practical Guide” Chapter 1, by Randall Whitehead.)
But what do these four “duties” mean? According to Whitehead, decorative lighting, which includes table and floor lamps, provides sparkle for a room.
Accent lighting “…is directed illumination that highlights objects within an environment.” Sources include track and recessed adjustable fixtures.
Task lighting is needed for performing work-related functions, like reading, preparing food, typing at a keyboard, etc. Examples include focused table lamps (with solid shades) and under-cabinet fixtures, mounted above kitchen countertops.
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Ambient lighting is perhaps most important, and “…is the soft, general illumination that fills the volume of a room with a glow of light and softens the shadows on people”s faces,” according to Whitehead. Examples are torchieres (types of floor lamps that focus the light toward the ceiling) and indirect pendants. The best sources of ambient light, writes Whitehead, “…are sources that bounce the illumination off the ceiling and walls.”
And as an aside, in the world of lighting design, what most people call fixtures are called “luminaires,” and light-bulbs are referred to as “lamps.”
So, while floor lamps fall under the heading of ambient lighting (if torchieres, pointing at the ceiling) and task lighting (if they have a solid shade and promote reading and other tasks), they most often fall under the decorative category. And here are some great examples with mid-century styling!
A driftwood floor lamp – hmm…www.etsy.com/listing/93392256/mid-century-painted-driftwood-floor-lamp