In the last article I discussed the core basics of Art Deco lamps. In this one I’ll dive into some specifics on one particular type of lamp: the Art Deco Table lamp. Table lamps lend themselves particularly well to Art Deco form as they provide both function and decoration in one neat elegant package which really allows the lamp’s details to be viewed close up.
All too often I see buyers purchase a lamp without properly considering what it will be used for. They come across an attractive piece and whisk it home with no idea where it will go. A great deal on a lamp that really suits your taste is hard to pass up – an I’m not suggesting you should. But before you go out looking you might want to pin down some basic idea of what you home needs for lighting. Make a note of what spaces you have and how the light could be improved. Ask yourself a few things:
What is the Function of the Lighting?
There are three general lighting functions: task, accent, and general.
- Task lighting is for a specific task like or working on a project or reading. It is usually focused on a specific area and bright.
- Accent lighting is mostly decorative and is made to accent a specific object or place in your house. The most obvious example would be a light directed at a sculpture. Accent lights are usually less ostentatious themselves as they’re not supposed to be the center of attention.
- General lighting is the basic illumination (often called ambient light) for any room. It is commonly diffused with lamp shades.
Most table lamps are designed for ambient lighting. If you want yours to function in another capacity or have dual functions (say general lighting and a reading lamp) they be aware of this so you can be sure to buy one that will fit your needs.
Where Does it Need to Throw Light?
Even if you decide you just need a general lighting lamp you’ll still have to consider where that lamp is going to shine light. Torchiere lamps will cast it on the celling. Lamps with dark shades will cast the light down and sometimes also up. Lamps with diffuse shades will cast it everywhere. Think about how that’s going to affect your room. A lamp with a diffuse shade sitting right next to your television is going to cast an annoying glare on the screen. It’s details like this that you’ll need to consider.
Exotic Lamp Options
If you want to really have a nice conversation piece you might investigate a lamp that incorporates a clock or a radio. Lamps with these features were not common but enough were made that you can often find one to fit your space. In both cases the clocks and certainly radios will prove charmingly quirky. The clocks were often wind up but some were electric. The radio elements will be AM only and will rely on fragile vacuum tubes so don’t leave the radio on when you’re not using it (the tubes will burn out). Also, be aware that vintage radios do not just switch on like modern ones. They take a minute or to to warm up before they will make any sound. Have a bit of patience when testing one.
The Wiring Notice
Just as in my first article, I must advise you to have all vintage electrical gear inspected by a professional before you use them. Vintage design is fantastic. Vintage wiring? Well, it might be passable but I personally won’t trust it. Better to have it checked out.