Does anyone remember the original Parson’s table? This was a square table with square legs and it came in different sizes and heights. Designed in the fifties by a teacher at the Parson’s School of Design, it was sturdy and versatile and at the time, quite modern. It has never gone out of style, although it’s difficult to find the original version anymore. Now one finds copies in every color and material. Home centers and five-and-tens even sell a plastic version for $3.95. Good design does last.
The other day a friend and I were singing the praises of the old gooseneck studio lamp. It comes in clamp-on and desk-top models, and the originals were sold through better art stores. Interior designers have always borrowed from other venues and this lamp ultimately found its way from the artists’ studios into homes as a versatile reading lamp. It had an industrial look that was quite handsome, and it still prevails in many homes that don’t have an artist in residence. Eventually knockoffs appeared, and as is the norm, they were not as sturdy, and the quality of the metal base wasn’t as good. Now you can get really cheap versions that function well enough for use on a child’s homework desk. But the originals still look great in a modern living room.
The Tizio Lamp
Today’s version of a good work lamp is the Tizio, a high-intensity desk lamp with a swivel base that can be adjusted to nearly any angle. The original sells for around $350, but you can find all sorts of copies for under $60 and really cheap versions for under $25. There are several versions of Halogen lamps with a spring-balanced arm that are well-designed task lights. There are also copies of the copies trading several levels downward in price and function. But they are classic designs and, like tie-dyed shirts, will probably be rediscovered by the next generation as modem design.