This New Lighting Trend Gives You Total Decorating Freedom

published May 18, 2022
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Credit: Flos

I remember the first time I saw a high-design, battery-powered light. Back in 2019, I was dining at Frevo NYC, a little jewel box restaurant hidden behind an art gallery. The space was incredibly cool, but I found myself less interested in the secret entrance (the door is behind a painting) than the seemingly magical lamps that lit the bar. I was curious how they were wired, so when the bartender wasn’t looking, I picked one up: To my astonishment, it had no cords!

Back at home, a little sleuthing revealed that Frevo NYC’s lamps are the Bellhop lamp by Flos. Debuted at the Salone del Mobile in 2017, the Bellhop was conceived as a table lamp for the new London Design Museum by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby. However, with a high-ish price point (they’re $325 each), I wasn’t tempted to take the plunge — yet. But I did make a mental note that cordless lamps could be much more than the usual camping lantern.

Fast forward to 2020, when I was deep in the last stages of writing a book about bunk beds, I realized that rechargeable, cordless lamps would be an ideal lighting solution for top bunks — or really any bed without an outlet nearby! I reached out to the team at MoMA Design Store to find out more about this new category of lighting.

“Lately we have seen growing interest in portable lighting,” says Chay Costello, the associate director of merchandising for the MoMA Design Store, who notes this is partially a response to our changing needs as people navigate living through a pandemic. “People are looking for multifunctional designs with options during this time when every room in the house needs to play double and even triple duty, as we move from mealtime to workspace to family game night.” These new designs provide light where you need it, when you need it — you can even take them outside!

Costello reveals that classic lighting designs are also being updated to be rechargeable and portable, like Verner Panton’s iconic 1968 Flowerpot design, now available as the VP9 LED Portable Lamp (above) and Panton’s iconic 1971 Panthella Lamp, which is also now available to go

Credit: HAY

Prices on this lighting category have also come down. Among the portable lighting designs MoMA Design Store recently introduced are the PL1 Portable Table Light designed by George Sowden (at only $79, it’s an affordable way to add a bit of playful Memphis design to your home). For a similar silhouette to the Flos one I first admired, HAY’s PC Portable Lamp (above), designed by Pierre Charpin, is more affordable (albeit plastic) lamp that retails for $100 (currently on sale for $84).

When my friend, a fellow design editor with incredible taste, shared her own portable lamp on Instagram, I couldn’t help imagining all the spots I might use one myself, like that dark corner on our kitchen counter. When I messaged her to ask how she liked it, she said she loved it. However, she cautioned me she’d been trying to buy it for months, but it kept selling out! You’ve been warned!