If being immortalized on a postage stamp is any indication of an object’s significance, it’s safe to say that the original Anglepoise desk lamp qualifies as a full-fledged icon. Back in 2009, Britain’s Royal Mail included the classic Anglepoise table lamp amongst its 10 British Design Classics postage stamp series, cementing the famous lamp’s place amongst the most recognizable of Britain’s design objects—alongside other ubiquitous symbols, like the red double decker bus and the London Underground Map. And little wonder, considering the Anglepoise’s timeless appeal. Developed in 1931 by an automotive engineer named George Carwardine, the first Angelpoise lamp had a novel three-spring system that was revolutionary enough to be granted a patent in 1932. In production since then, the familiar anthropomorphic Anglepoise profile has been endlessly replicated by countless manufacturers of modern lamps, but stands alone as an emblem of British design innovation.
The pioneering characteristic of the Anglepoise table lamp was its peerless combination of flexibility and balance. Creator George Cawardine’s three-spring system imbued the lamp with a head and body of articulated elements that allowed for a range of height and directional options novel to an object of illumination. And long before anthropomorphic design became a staple of Apple’s computer interface, the Anglepoise’s human-like form made a beguiling modern lighting addition to both domestic and commercial interiors. Today this quintessential British brand oversees a range of modern task lamps, floor lamps and wall lights powered by energy-efficient LEDs, reaffirming the company’s watershed moment as one that transcends eras, having yielded an ageless design object that remains relevant to this 21st Century, and beyond.