Textile machinery importer Jac Jacobsen was running his business as usual one day in 1936 when “two crane-like spring balanced ‘monster’ task lights” designed by an automotive engineer named George Carwardine arrived at his door to help illuminate the machinery within. Taken with the concept, Jacobsen purchased distributorship rights and began using his own engineering expertise to make a few modifications.
In autumn of 1937, production and marketing began on the first series of the LUXO L-1, the instant classic we identify today — along with many flattering variations on the theme — as the architect lamp.
It’s become such a ubiquitous desktop necessity over the past eight decades that it’s now available in every finish and color imaginable through such commercial powerhouses as Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel and Target.
The signature clamp, angled adjustable arm and classic lines are an unmistakable nod to excellence and dedication in the workplace, and each element has stood the test of time, showing no signs of becoming outmoded. And why should it? Its satisfying form and inherent symbolism seem to herald the professional ascent of the person working beneath it, burning the midnight oil without sacrificing precision.
Not surprisingly, the vintage market is booming in found item hotspots (and, of course, on Etsy) for both the LUXO L-1 and a host of early interpretations by other aspiring lamp manufacturers, while prominent modern designers like Greta Magnusson Grossman have used the original concept as a springboard for floor lamps and other variations on the theme.