The Want List: Lamps That Make a Statement

Resist “big light” energy. These versatile designs are sure to brighten any room in style.

Step aside, high-hats and fluorescent cylinders of oppression. The table lamp is getting its time to shine.

Whether it’s warm white or soft, natural rays beaming through walls of windows or the sultry glow of a dimmed-down sconce, there’s a reason why lighting is one of interior design’s most critical considerations. Light has the singular power to shape how you visually process a space and everything in it. More than practical necessity, it sets the mood — and yours. That’s why sometimes, the “big light,” as the TikTok hive mind has collectively dubbed ceiling-mounted fixtures, simply isn’t it.

Enter the table lamp. Sure, they’re rarely tied to a wall switch, but fidgeting to find that toggle halfway down the cord, squished somewhere between an end table and the wall, is all part of the experience — a modest price for injecting the room with priceless personality that these things could only dream of. Maybe you’ll even get to toot-toot a pull chain, depending on what you’re working with (and who doesn’t love that?).

From midcentury favorites to more traditional forms, here are five enduring table lamps you can never go wrong with:

Verner Panton’s Flowerpot

Conceived by Danish industrial design legend Verner Panton, the Flowerpot Lamp, introduced in peak flower-powered 1968, is one of those forms that virtually everyone knows — even if not by name. The iconic design, offered in table and pendant versions (and more recently, desk, floor, and wall-mounted variants), is much beloved for its clean-lined simplicity and availability in a range of splash colors, making it a perfect conversation piece for any room. You’ll find corded and cordless versions out there, the latter being ideal for bookshelves, consoles, and more.

$315.00 at MoMA Design Store

IKEA’s Fado

There hasn’t been a time in recent memory when this literal ball of light wasn’t holding it down in IKEA’s lighting department (which might tie with the marketplace as the best part of the entire store). 10 inches in diameter with a cord that’s easy to hide, FADO drops soft, moody light wherever you put it, whether that’s a dining room sideboard, the dresser in the bedroom, or next to a stylin’ turntable on your vintage USM Haller media console. There’s only one place to get one, and the price is so right that you don’t even need to know where you’re putting it — figure that out later.

$31.99 at IKEA

HAY’s Matin

Pairing a pleated shade with a slim, wiry steel frame (with a rich-looking polished brass finish), the Matin lamp, from acclaimed studio HAY, delivers a certain sophisticated warmth that plays equally well with warm woods in minimalist surroundings and those eclectically maximalist places. It’s an incredibly versatile design, with a dimmer switch to bring the level of light that’s right for the place and the moment. The shades come in a mix of color offerings, from the more pastel peach and lavender to a light blue, deep green, and crisp white. No wonder Esquire included it on their 2021 list of the “40 coolest items for your home.”

$215.00 at HAY

Giancarlo Mattioli’s Nesso

When it debuted in 1964, Giancarlo Mattioli’s Nesso — along with its mini-me, the Nessino, one year later — were some of the earlier trendsetting furniture pieces to utilize thermoplastic resins. This novel material didn’t just take almost any shape designers could dream up; it allowed their high-fashion concepts to be easily produced for the masses. Mattioli’s most celebrated lamp vision resulted in this mushroom cloud-like form, an enduring icon of the atomic-fueled midcentury modernism that hit a hard reset on the look and feel of home. Still produced by Artimede, it’s available in white or orange.

$545.00 at Design Within Reach

Schoolhouse’s Arbor Table Lamp

If traditional-with-a-twist is more your speed, the Arbor Table Lamp from Schoolhouse may be just the ticket. Not unlike how the house emoji captures the quintessential shape of a single-family home, the Arbor captures the classic shape of a lamp — in this case with a triangular, natural linen shade on a cylindrical maple base. The latter, turned by hand on a lathe, comes in five colors to make a subtle statement that’s on brand for any transitional design strategy.

$499.00 at Schoolhouse

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