Photo-Illustration: Courtesy of the Retailers
A good-looking table lamp can pull double duty as a decorative element while casting your space in a warm glow. And when combined with wall sconces and pendants, it can create layers of illumination, providing different points of light in one room depending on your needs. As long as it’s small enough to sit on a tabletop — or desk or nightstand — it’s fair game. To help you find one that’s right for you, I talked to 14 interior designers about their favorites, including options that can be used as task lamps or bedside-table lights alike, all at a variety of price points. Below, 19 table lamps that are as functional as they are aesthetically pleasing. I’ve categorized them roughly by style: shaded, round, and abstract. If you’re looking for lighting with more specific uses, check out our roundups of bedside-table lamps, nightlights, and desk lamps.
“If you’re looking for a lamp that’s simultaneously on trend and timeless, this beauty is it,” says Havenly lead designer Heather Goerzen. Designed by Studio Anansi for CB2, this tall lamp incorporates a mix of materials — solid unlacquered brass pulls and base, pleated linen shade, and natural cane that wraps around the stem — a feature Goerzen loves. “It’s just so pretty,” she says. As one of the taller lamps on our list, it measures 25.5 inches.
For something less flashy, Goerzen turns to this slim lamp designed by Mark Sikes for Hudson Valley Lighting as one of her “go-to” pieces. Measuring 34 inches tall, it’s made of plaster-finished steel and has an off-white paper shade. “It’s got a look that’s as refined as it is relaxed and brings an effortless quality to surface styling,” says Goerzen.
Keren Richter of interior-design firm White Arrow “loves this cute one” with its petite ceramic base, white linen shade, and walnut neck from Caravan Pacific. The 17-inch base also comes in black and would bring a laid-back vibe to any room.
This curvaceous lamp is a favorite of Havenly lead designer Toussaint Derby, who loves its “organic shape, the faint color of the glass, and the scale between the shade and the base of the lamp.” Topped with a classic drum shade in khaki linen with natural slubbing and finished with antique brass-plated steel accents, it’s definitely among the taller of the lamps on this list at nearly 33 inches.
Here’s another lamp with sinuous lines. New Orleans lighting designer Julie Neill loves this 30-inch ceramic lamp with gilded base by Alexa Hampton for its “gracefully folded ceramic body, which is echoed on the wonderfully fluted base that make the lamp both modern and timeless” and great for a wide range of interiors.
“This is one of my consistent favorites for a few reasons,” says Derby of this faceted globe lamp from West Elm. She loves the compact size (it’s ten inches in diameter and just a hair over 11 inches tall), which she says is great for “those small spaces that could use a little light.” Plus, “I love that the prism feature on the shade creates interest and gives a different texture to a room,” she adds. The clear shade sits on top of a stubby antique-brass-finished steel base.
Interior designer Victoria Adesanmi recommends this squat table lamp (it’s just eight inches tall) from Crate & Barrel that incorporates a round marble base and an off-center brass-finished stainless-steel shade. “The asymmetrical design is striking, and the mix of brushed metal and marble makes it a must-have for your home,” she says. “I love that this table lamp also serves as a piece of art.”
Designer and photographer Tommy Lei says the Baltra light designed by Kickie Chudikova for Gantri has quickly become his household favorite. Lei notes that this eight-inch dimmable lamp comes with “a sensible tray” (available in white, black, or persimmon), which he says is “ideal for pesky keys that somehow manage to magically disappear.” While he admits this feature makes the lamp more suited for an entryway, he proudly displays it on a bookcase. I can also see it being quite useful as a bedside nightlight thanks to its egg-shaped diffuser.
Caroline Grant and Dolores Suarez of Dekar Design recommend the Rex table lamp from Urban Electric because “it’s perfect for styling bookshelves and gives the most flattering glow,” they say. “The sleek lines add a classic-but-modern touch and it’s endlessly functional since it turns on with a single touch to the base and can be customized in different metals and colors.” The Rex, which measures nine inches in height, is also a favorite of interior designer Sasha Bikoff, who loves its “slightly-industrial-yet-warm element” and the fact that “it’s so simple yet so chic, with no buttons, knobs or switches of any kind.”
For a globe lamp that’s anything but dull, designer Ghislaine Viñas likes the playfulness of Marset’s Dipping Light by Barcelona-based designer Jordi Canudas. “It’s like a piece of candy; the green is my favorite,” she says. The just under nine-inches tall LED lamp incorporates a handblown glass diffuser painted with concentric circles (available in five festive colors) and a cylindrical brass-finished base.
Viñas is also drawn to the “peculiar and organic quality” of Eny Lee Parker’s Oo Lamp. “It feels like an individual crafted it and I love that it feels unique and blobby and wonderful. If I had a couple of empty nightstands in my house, I would put these on them in a heartbeat,” she says. The 25-inch lamp, released in drops of ten, is handcrafted from clay, wired in-house, and has copper accents.
With an abstract, thick-legged base, this 12-inch lamp from Anthropologie has a similar effect but at a more palatable price. “It has a great shape, and the texture would play nicely off a glass- or wood-topped side table,” says Viñas. “It would be great for a traditional space needing a little modernity, and similarly the soft lines would complement any modern interior.” I personally own this lamp and love its rounded ceramic base.
Wooj’s mini version of its signature Wavy 3-D-printed lamp is one of Lei’s favorites for “a tiny corner or space.” He actually has one tucked away on a garden table under a covered patio. “It just looks sublime every time it’s turned on,” he says. “It’s super-glow-y and looks like you have a tiny jellyfish light floating around.” That glow-y quality is what makes (the full-size version) an ideal bedside-table lamp, as my colleague Erin Schwartz noted. The six-inch lamp is made of heat-resistant, corn-based plastic.
Entler’s blobby cast-ceramic stoneware table lamps were recommended by two of our experts, Lei and production designer Anastasia White. This lamp has a more organic shape with brass hardware and accents — details White calls “modern, classic, and fun” — and a cloth-covered cord. She loves the functionality of the downward-focused light, which makes it ideal for desks, coupled with the “anthropomorphic nature of the form,” which she says “gives the sense of a creature watching over your work.” Lei agrees: “The arresting nature of the light grabs your attention immediately.” Lei prefers it in this glossy black finish, but it’s available in an array of gloss and matte glazes, including pink, yellow, chartreuse, and lavender. It comes in an 18-inch version as well.
It’s no surprise that designers love Noguchi’s Akari lamp. “It’s sculptural, creates a magical ambient light, and my favorite part — it’s anthropomorphism,” says White. Richter of White Arrow agrees: “Noguchi designs are a classic, and paper lanterns cast such a pretty glow.” The designers at Pappas Miron also love the Akari light sculptures for their form and function. Plus, they say, “The handmade rice paper glows when lit, and the spindly legs simply make us smile.” This 3A model measures 11 inches tall and is supported by a metal frame.
For lamps that don’t necessarily look like lamps, interior designer Tali Roth recommends the Gatto lamp by Achille Castiglioni. “I love this lamp because it looks like a jellyfish,” she says. “It’s seriously beautiful and gives a soft light.” It comes in two sizes: 11.8 and 22 inches.
This earthen lamp by New York studio In Common With looks like it’s wearing a fancy hat. Roth appreciates the nostalgia this dimmable lamp evokes, as well as its hard-molded clay shade and steel base. It measures nearly 13 inches tall.
A little taller at 17 inches and a bit more mushroomlike is this flat-domed lamp with a “conversation-starting silhouette” that Derby says makes a great statement lamp. It comes in cream and olive, but she prefers the latter as “it can easily fit with a lot of different palettes.” It’s made of iron, has a ridged, columnar base, and is accented with brass.
Bikoff loves “an out-there piece in all spaces,” and these vintage toucan lamps from 1968 fit the bill. “They have so much charisma and personality, and certainly spice up any room,” she says.
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