George Nelson designed the first lamps in 1947. The inspiration appeared to Nelson after a frustrating experience where he tried to buy a Swedish-made lamp on sale. His desire for the spherical shape and silk covering, which produced a soft light, was still too expensive. His wish for modern and high quality products for the many resulted in his brainstorm of the Bubble Lamp.
Many of Nelson’s designs have been attributed to a sudden inspirational moment and the Bubble Lamp was no exception. In recollecting how the design came to him Nelson has said, “…suddenly an image popped into my mind which seemed to have nothing to do with anything. It was a picture in The New York Times some weeks before which showed liberty ships being mothballed by having the decks covered with netting and then being sprayed with a self-webbing plastic… Whammo!”
Within the following days after his poor experience at the sale, he had tracked down a manufacturer of the self-webbing spray and tested a plastic covered lamp. His reasoning that there needed to be a modern lamp of a soft, glowing light quality, durable and for the masses produced the Bubble Lamp. In 1952 Howard Miller, the brother of Herman Miller, ran the first production of these lamps. It immediately became a ubiquitous symbol of modern living in the 1950’s. Variations of the lamp’s shape and stand were designed and made during its distribution with Howard Miller. They were discontinued in the 1970’s.
Video - Bubble Lamps
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