Lightopia: Vitra Design Museum explores artificial lighting – Anglepoise blog | Blog

Lightopia: Vitra Design Museum's exploration into artificial lighting

An article by Jolanthe Kugler, Curator, Vitra Design Museum that looks into why classic lights like the Anglepoise were chosen for the »Lightopia« Exhibition.

The idea for the exhibition »Lightopia« had originally been borne from the desire to showcase the Vitra Design Museum’s extensive and ever-growing collection of classic lights. However, it soon became evident that any exhibition on lighting would, above all, have to take into consideration the current paradigm shift in this area, brought about by the profound changes that are occurring thanks to new technologies and developments such as the cessation of the classic light bulb.

»Lightopia« looks at how electric light has revolutionised our environment like almost no other medium, featuring examples from the realms of art, design, architecture and many other disciplines.

The approximately 50 classic lights that are shown in room 2 of the exhibition each represent a specific milestone in the area of lighting design, be it because of their technological merit, because of the way they stand for particular developments in society at the time, because of the designer they were conceived by, or because of a combination of these factors.

The Anglepoise was somewhat a “mandatory” inclusion of this selection, as its conception marks a significant point in cultural history: the moment at which the commercial realities of the Machine Age had grown to such a level that designers began to look for universal and affordable solutions that could be realised using serial production methods. The Anglepoise light represents a very elegant solution to this new way of thinking. George Carwadine’s unique design translated the ingenuity of the human body into an industrial form, courtesy of a mechanism that can be placed and held in a plethora of positions by an arrangement of counterbalancing springs – similar to a human arm.

Today, the spring tension principle used in the Anglepoise may be so ubiquitous that it is hard to conceive of just how revolutionary the design was it 1932, when Carwadine had it patented. Nevertheless, it remains the quintessential example of task lighting, even today.

Vitra Design Museum, Charles-Eames-Straße 2, D
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Photographic Credits:

Key Visual / Abstraction based on:
Vico Magistretti, Atollo, 1977 © Vico Magistretti Foundation, Oluce, photo: Collection Vitra Design Museum, Daniel Spehr

Image 1
Carlos Cruz-Diez, Chromosaturation, 2010 © Carlos Cruz-Diez & Adagp, Paris 2013

Image 2
Ingo Mauer, Lighting concept for the subway station Westfriedhof, Munich, 1998 © Ingo Maurer GmbH Munich, photo: Markus Tollhopf

Image 3
Lightopia Opening night - photo Barbara Kern

Image 4
George Carwardine, Anglepoise, 1934 © Anglepoise®, photo: Collection Vitra Design Museum, Andreas Jung

Image 5
Lightopia Opening night - photo Barbara Kern


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