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Beloved by generations of Brits, the Anglepoise Type 75 Desk Lamp is the current-day standard bearer of the task lighting first introduced in the 1930s. Having previously called the Type 75 a “minor miracle of balance,” it was serendipity when noted industrial designer Sir Kenneth Grange was recently tapped to create this update. (Sir Kenneth’s incredible 50-year career also spans the Kodak Instamatic, England’s Intercity 125 high-speed train and the redesigned London taxi.) With its unfussy lines, fully adjustable functionality and quality undimmed over 80 years, the Type 75 has earned its status as a modernist icon.
Here’s the unlikely tale of how an iconic British design literally "sprung" from an amateur inventor’s workshop. More than 70 years ago, automotive engineer George Carwardine, tinkering with constant-tension metal springs developed by the French firm Terry’s, found they could be moved in any direction but then “stayed put.” He didn’t find an application for cars but envisioned a task lamp based on the mechanics of the human arm. Notably, he added a shade to focus the light which meant that it used less electricity than usual at the time.
With patent in hand in 1934, George debuted the first Anglepoise at the British Industries Fair. Since then, his original model 1227 and succeeding variations have proved timeless to generations of students, artists and professionals. Anglepoise lamps were produced for World War II bombers, celebrated in a Royal Mail stamp and have inspired tributes from musicians, artists and writers. With new energy-saving strides, the Anglepoise remains true to its defining minimalist design and efficiency.