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The Bauhaus Jucker-Wagenfeld lamp, 1924

Classics of Modern Design

Part 2 in our new series highlighting some of the things we like most in modern design

Jucker-Wagenfeld Bauhaus lamp
"One of the purest expressions of Bauhaus theory: geometrical shapes and industrial materials with no concessions to decoration or frivolity."

Read more below

Previously in Classics of Modern Design

Class 47 diesel locomotive
Jucker-Wagenfeld Bauhaus lamp


     Carl Jacob Jucker and Wilhelm Wagenfeld
Date:              1924

The Bauhaus combined arts and crafts traditions with a modern approach to industrial design.  Its courses drew on lecturers across a range of traditional and modern crafts disciplines - from textiles and metallurgical engineering to printing, graphic design and architecture; and the arts, including fine arts, music, and photography, still in its infancy as a creative medium. 

Designers such as the Jucker-Wagenfeld lamp strove to design elegant practical equipment, furniture and fittings which revealed their industrial components while capable of being mass produced.

Jucker and Wagenfeld's table lamp, is a good example of this.  At one level it is incredibly simple - a dome supported by a column.  But has an elegant geometric form, consisting of what resemble machine components, easily mass-produced, and a flex and metal ball pull-string which could be taken from a machine tool. On the other hand, the central column is cased in glass, an elegant touch which actually makes the lamp look more machine-like, yet is completely unnecessary (indeed it is possible to buy a simpler version with a solid metal column, and it loses a good deal of its beauty).  This gives the lie to 'form-follows-function', a philosophy advanced by the Bauhaus but which did not constrain collaboration and the adoption of different ideas by its students.   

I have been obsessed with this lamp for decades.  I first encountered it on the table in an extended interview with Wim Wenders, the German film director, in 1990 ("Motion and Emotion: the films of Wim Wenders"). As he sipped coffee and trains sped past behind him, the Jucker-Wagenfeld  lamp occupied the centre of the screen, a not-very-incidental lamp.  But I could find it only in museum catalogues and design books. In the days before the internet, it was impossible to track it down.  Until one day, a decade and a half later, in a random visit to a shop called Citta Luce, on the outskirts of Naples, there it was, in the clearance bargains.  I bought it, and it came home with me.  Weeks later, watching the sequel to Wenders' classic 'Wings of Desire' there was a scene with Lou Reed in a hotel room, surrounded by perhaps fifty of these lamps. It was meant to be.

No such problems today for those in search of this classic of 20th century modern design. Produced by Techno-lumen of Bremen, it can be bought online from a number of lighting distributers.  It is also in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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