Shining a Light on the Iconic Designs of 1960s Lighting

The Design Aesthetic of the 1960s

The 1960s was a decade of change and innovation in the world of design. This was particularly true in the field of lighting, where designers working in diverse industries brought new ideas and techniques to the table.

One of the most striking features of 1960s lighting design was the use of bold, geometric shapes. This trend was seen in everything from pendant lamps to floor lamps to table lamps, as designers experimented with unusual silhouettes and complex patterns.

Another key trend of 1960s lighting was the use of bright, vivid colors. Designers used everything from neon pinks and greens to deep blues and purples to create lighting fixtures that were as visually impactful as they were functional.

The Prolific Designers of the 1960s

Perhaps the best-known designer of 1960s lighting was Italian architect and industrial designer Gae Aulenti. She created iconic pieces like the “Pipistrello” lamp, which featured a distinctive curved shade that resembled the wings of a bat. Aulenti’s work was characterized by its bold, sculptural quality and its ability to seamlessly blend art and functionality.

Another prominent designer of 1960s lighting was Danish architect and designer Poul Henningsen. Henningsen is best known for his “PH” series of lamps, which featured multi-layered, reflective shades that allowed for even, glare-free illumination. His designs reflected a deep understanding of the relationship between light and space, and remain popular with collectors and enthusiasts today.

Iconic Pieces of 1960s Lighting

There are countless examples of iconic lighting designs from the 1960s, but a few stand out as particularly noteworthy.

The Arco Lamp

Designed by Italian brothers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni in 1962, the Arco lamp is a true design classic. Its sleek, minimalist frame supports a large, curved shade that can be positioned at various heights, making it a versatile addition to any space. The Arco lamp is still produced today and remains a favorite of modernist design enthusiasts.

The Tizio Lamp

Designed by Italian architect and designer Richard Sapper in 1972, the Tizio lamp was a revolutionary new take on desk lighting. It featured a thin, lightweight frame that supported a small, adjustable head. The Tizio lamp was the first of its kind to use halogen bulbs, which provided a bright, focused light that was perfect for reading and working.

The Bubble Lamp

Designed by American designer George Nelson in 1947, the Bubble lamp remains an enduring icon of mid-century modern lighting design. It consisted of a simple, steel wire frame that was covered in a series of translucent plastic “bubbles”. The result was a gentle, diffuse light that cast a warm glow in any room.


The 1960s was a decade of bold experimentation and innovation in the world of lighting design. From the geometric shapes of Gae Aulenti to the multi-layered shades of Poul Henningsen, designers in this era transformed the way we think about light and space. Today, the iconic designs of 1960s lighting continue to inspire and intrigue designers and design enthusiasts around the world.

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