George Nelson’s Bubble Lamps

When I posted an image with mid-century industrial design George Nelson (1908-86) with the Bubble Lamps he designed for Herman Miller, it got a sensational attention. Because these iconic lamps have become among the most beloved objects of American design. First designed in 1947, itself an important year at Herman Miller, where Nelson served as the Director of Design (from 1945 through 1972), and when Isamu Noguchi’s coffee table was first introduced, they had come to capture the love of millions living in the Atomic Age. Just like the plywood, which Charles Eames came to adopt from the leg splint he created for the American military into his blockbuster furniture, Nelson too, utilized WWII material, a self-webbing plastic that was developed for naval ships. While the lamps may look as if they are made of paper, Nelson discovered the plastic material which made them into safer and more durable. The inspiration for these lamps, according to Nelson, came from hanging spherical lamps from Sweden made of paper, made into an all-American consumer product.