Irradiation lamp

1951 (designed)

Bill, Max

Height: 58.5 cm, Width: 38.5 cm, Diameter: 14.5 cm stand

M.27-2008 MET

Irradiation lamp, steel, enamelled and chromed, manufactured by Novelectric A.G., Switzerland, designed by Max Bill, 1951.

This irradiation lamp consists of two cones, coated in grey-blue enamel connected by a flexible "goose-neck" armature of chromed steel. This adjustable neck also serves as a handle. The upper cone is the lamp shade and houses an earthenware crown containing a screw thread fitting for the light bulb. Around the top runs a double row of pierced, circular holes for ventilation. The base cone is weighted by a circular cast iron disc, attached to the rim by three, chrome screws and serves as the base plate, resting on three rubber pads attached by metal screws. The dual core flex, covered in black rubber insulation emerges through the side of the base though a hole protected by a rubber grommet. The "torpedo" switch in red plastic and clear acrylic is half way along the length of the flex which terminates in a two pin European plug, encased in black plastic.

This irradiation lamp was designed by Swiss artist, designer and architect Max Bill (1908-1994). It consists of two identical cones of metal sheeting, one to house the lamp and the other the adaptor, with a flexible tube connecting them (which is also intended to act as a carrying handle). Max Bill was one of the most significant figures in post-war industrial design, due mainly to his role as president of the Swiss Werkbund and as director of the Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG Ulm), the experimental design school founded in Germany in 1953. The lamp embodies the Werkbund principles of ‘Gute Form’, promoted in annual design awards from 1949, and the title of a book and exhibition by Bill. The Ulm school was intended by its founders as institution of democratic education, devoted to politics and philosophy as well as culture, which would aid in the moral rebuilding of Germany. Plans for the school were directed more firmly towards design when the founders invited Bill to be director. Bill was a former Bauhaus student Werkbund and a major figure in the cause of modernist architecture and design in Europe. The school became the figurehead of Western German modernism in the post-war period, often referred to as a 'new bauhaus'. In terms of product design, Bill and his colleagues pursued an ideal of rationalist modernism, in visual and philosophical opposition to the streamlined styling of post-war American design.

This table lamp was designed by Swiss artist, designer and architect Max Bill. It consists of two identical cones of metal sheeting, one to house the lamp and the other the adaptor, with a flexible tube connecting them (which is also intended to act as a carrying handle). Historical significance: The lamp is one of the earliest of Bill's post war product designs. It was included in the exhibition 'Cold War Modern: Design 1945-75' where it was featured in a section on 'The Morality of Objects' which explored the founding of the Ulm school and Bill's role. Metalwork has also purchased at auction a kitchen clock designed by Bill and manufactured by Junghans, which was shown along side the lamp.

Location: In Storage

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