No matter how carefully you’ve chosen your sofa, how much time you spent dithering over rugs or how many paint colors you tried on the walls, one fluorescent bulb can ruin the whole carefully orchestrated design effect. Lighting is one of the most important components of a well-designed room. We love to layer our lighting choices — providing lots of ambient illumination options in each room. When it comes to choosing a table or bedside lamps, time again we find ourselves reaching for the classic gourd lamp.
Pictured above: Gourd lamps used in our NYC apartment redesign
A Little Gourd Lamp History
It’s called a gourd lamp for a fairly obvious reason, the shape is modeled on a traditional gourd. In prehistoric China, gourds were used as vessels for holding water and the shape was so versatile that potters modeled their ceramic bottles on the organic shape. Then when porcelain was invented in around 800 A.D., the favorite gourd shape was replicated in this new lustrous material. When European explorers brought porcelain back from China, all of European high society went gaga for the stuff. In addition to the form of the gourd, there were many other vases spaces. Those porcelain pieces were collected, prized and displayed throughout Europe for hundreds of years.
In the early 1900s, when the light bulb became widespread, high-end decorators took the more elaborately painted Chinese vases and converted them into lamps bases topped with fussy, fringed and pleated lamps. The undecorated and plainer gourd vases were considered too simple. But when the fashion shifted in the 1950s to more streamlined shapes, designers gave the gourd vases a second look. In the 1960s and ’70s, jet-set designers like David Hicks and Albert Hadley rewired the gourd vases and integrated them into their design schemes.
These days, everyone from Jonathan Adler to West Elm has a take on the gourd lamp. And for good reason, the simple shape works effortlessly into almost any space. It’s certainly one of our favorites.
Smoked Glass Lamp
The smoked hand-blown glass gives this gourd lamp an updated ’70s feel.