There are so many different kinds of task lamps on the market, it's hard to believe that two of the most popular ones are design classics that have been around for decades! Both were instrumental in popularizing an industrial look for domestic spaces. But they were designed about 20 years apart. If you were to guess which came first, which would you choose, the Jieldé or the Anglepoise?
If you guessed the Jieldé, that's what I would have guessed — and we're both wrong! The Anglepoise came first, designed in England in 1932, and the Jieldé is a French design from around 1950.
The designer of the Anglepoise was George Carwardine, an automotive engineer who owned a factory that made suspension systems for cars. In his workshop, Carwardine invented a new kind of spring that was very flexible and yet would stay in tension when held in position. It took him a while to figure out what to do with this invention, but he was soon making prototypes for a task lamp for workers in his factory using 4 of his new springs. He then licensed the design to a manufacturer, who started producing the lamps for a wider population in 1934 using only 3 springs (image 2).
Carwardine initially wanted to call his lamp the Equipoise, but this name was rejected by the Patent Office for duplicating a real word, so he came up with Anglepoise. The lamps were immediately successful, and within a couple years, Carwardine was producing different models with minor aesthetic tweaks to best appeal to a domestic consumer.
The Jieldé lamp was also developed by an engineer for industrial use. Jean-Louis Domecq was a machinist who was frustrated by the lack of heavy-duty task lamps for his work. He wanted something that could articulate into a range of positions without interfering with electrical wiring (which was often a fire hazard in articulating lamps), and that could also withstand the conditions of an industrial workshop.
In 1950, Domecq created a mechanism for the articulating joints of his lamps that actually eliminated wires (image 7). He spent a couple years drawing up plans to industrialize production, and then launched his company, Jieldé, which is just his initials, JLD, pronounced in French (zhee-el-DAYH). In 1953, he began selling his Standard lamps, a floor model and a desk model, and they were quickly very popular in an industrial context.
Jieldé released the Loft lamp in 1987 and the Signal lamp in 2006, variations on the original that added color and also made the lamps a little smaller in scale in order to appeal to a more domestic consumer (images 8-10). Ironically, Anglepoise went in the opposite direction, and in 2004 produced the Giant Anglepoise (image 5).
Which one is your favorite?
Originally published 10.20.11 - JL