Table Lamps

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Table Lamps

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Looking for a new lease on light? Design devotees know that virtually any furniture piece can be transformed into functional sculpture, but the table lamp, with its tabletop-friendly footprint (and unique ability to self-spotlight) makes it clear that perhaps light imitates art best of all. From minimalists to maximalists, from taskers to baskers, there’s a table lamp to tempt virtually everyone—which also means that picking one can be a tedious at best, a stab in the dark at worst. To help illuminate the array of table lamp options, we’ve collected four standby table lamp styles that designers love: the jar table lamp, the gourd lamp, the task lamp, and the dome lamp. Whether you’re looking for a switch-hitter (a multitasker of a lamp with a direct-it-where-you-want-it beam) or a bedside table lamp with ballast, we have you covered with these four illustrious styles.

Jar Lamps

Ideal for those who are looking for a table lamp that takes charge of a room, the jar lamp features a good-as-it-gets silhouette modeled after a vase or urn. In some cases, a literal vase or urn is used for the base, lending many of these traditional and contemporary table lamps a unique vintage appeal. Ginger jars, in particular, are commonly wired into jar table lamps. These quintessential lamps are often deployed in pairs, enlisted to bring balance to either side of a bed, sofa, console, or credenza. Most jar lamps fall into two camps: those with rough hewn terracotta-like finishes and those with glazed or glossy ceramic finishes. The former are perfect mates for rustic interiors, ideal for enhancing other tactile elements in a room, like cane, tweed, or linen. Glazed table lamps are a classic choice for perking up raw and lacquered wood furniture and bridging the gap between traditional and contemporary elements in a space.

Gourd Lamps

As its name suggests, the gourd table lamp is named after nature’s most humble, yet shapely fruit: the gourd. Anchored by a rotund base that tapers as it travels toward the harp, a gourd table features a silhouette that’s a bit elongated, lending it a sense of elegance. In scenarios where a jar table lamp or orb table lamp might feel too squat, a gourd table lamp can draw the eye upwards. It’s common to find gourd table lamps adhering to a Mid-Century Modern aesthetic, but the majority of these ceramic table lamps are contemporary in style. Look for gorgeous gourds in a whole range of candy-coated colors, as well as abstract prints like painterly swirls. The gourd table lamp’s buxom base makes a wide shade like a drum shade the perfect counterbalance, but an empire shade (tapered slightly at the top with a flared bottom) makes for a choice topper as well.

Task Lamps

It used to be that task table lamps were considered the dark side of the lighting world. Originally, the bulk of task lamps on the market were industrial in nature, erected from metal. Bereft of any resounding design integrity, task lamps became ridden with the most tactical of reputations. However, in the mid 20th century designers began to reinvent task table lamps, thereby extending the shelf life of this unassuming shelf light. Drafting inspiration from the booming tech and space sector, designers began teeing up gracefully linear lamps that challenged the notion that task lighting be strictly utilitarian. Task lamps that no longer required being stashed in a closet when off-duty opened up a new realm for this workhorse lamp, paving the way for nimble yet elegant lamps that can direct a high-wattage beam exactly where you need it.

Dome Lamps

A lamp defined solely by its shade, the dome lamp category includes any lamp that’s shielded by a metal or glass semi-globe shade. Also known as mushroom lamps, these modernist table lamps feel a bit prankish, but also strikingly chic, making them befitting for interiors that require an unexpected statement piece that’s fairly fool proof. Dome lamps are generally rendered in one of two materials: metal or glass. Metal dome lamps tend to be larger in size, making them ideal for filling out large nightstands or side tables. All-glass dome lamps are generally more compact, if not downright petite, and are often equipped with interior lights that set the entire piece—shade and base—aglow.