How an icon is born: the Bubble lamp by George Nelson for Hay
"Design is a response to social change" is a quote, true now more than ever, by, author of many design icons, including the lamp line. American, born in 1908 in Connecticut, graduated in architecture and fine arts at Yale, he believed that the task of design was to improve the world, inspired by the reality of nature. His style is intensely influenced by the formal rigor of modernism but it also knows how to be bright, poetic, lively and colorful. Just think of the Marshmallow sofa produced by Vitra, an absolute and timeless icon, dense with design value but also informal in style and absolutely comfortable. This ability to give life to designs that resist the passage of time, can be find in all its uniqueness in the Bubble lamp line, produced for the first time in 1950 and now edited in Europe by .
Back in the 50s, the mass was born and with it the consumers, in the sense we know today: the care of the interior is no longer the preserve of the happy few but becomes a widespread need, and this is the social change, in response to which, Bubble was born. Nelson had Swedish lamps covered in silk in his office, and he was inspired by them in the creation of the Bubble. But precisely from his will to respond to social change, he had considered that type of lamp too expensive in materials. And here, from the need to keep costs down, Nelson generates a technological innovation: coating the steel skeleton of the lamp not with silk but with a spray coating of a self-webbing resin originally used by the American army.
Nelson had made the industrial production of a refined lamp possible, but technological innovation is not the only advantage of this lamp, there is another interesting aspect that characterizes it and it is the assortment of shapes in which it is proposed. Suspended or wall-mounted, spherical, elliptical, pear and apple shaped. With the metal skeleton that creates unusual and reticular shapes that can be seen through the white coating, opaque and transparent when it lights up. In the wall mounted variant it has a walnut bracket to which a steel arm is anchored which can be adjusted to the right and left, up and down and ignition via a steel cord connected to the lighting body.
Its modernist elegance, essential but graceful, makes it suitable for different rooms of the house. It works in the living room but also in the kitchen, as well as in the dining area, where combining two bubbles of equal shapes creates an interesting game of symmetries. For a richer decorative effect, however, several elements of different shapes can be combined. Precisely because the various models, while presenting differences, remain in dialogue with each other.
The rounded and essential shape and the white color make the task of integrating them into the furnishing and decorative context of the house very simple. Bubble has become an iconic lamp also thanks to the ability to discreetly be noticed and to bring a touch of elegance without ever going over the top.
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