See more objects with the tag lighting, geometric, aluminum, lamp, cork, domestic interior.

Object Timeline

  • We acquired this object.

1951

  • Work on this object began.

2016

2019

  • You found it!

T-3-C Table Lamp, 1951

This is a Table Lamp. It is dated 1951. Its medium is spun aluminum, enameled aluminum, stainless steel rods, cork. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Inspired by Marcel Breuer’s comment that he could not find a single well-designed floor or table lamp for The Museum of Modern Art’s Exhibition House in 1949, The Museum of Modern Art sponsored a low-cost lighting design competition that called for entries the following year and went on public display in March of 1951. The event was held in collaboration with The Heifetz Manufacturing Company of New York. Entries were received from 43 states and competitors totaled more than 600. This lamp by James Harvey Crate won third prize and along with its fellow winners, as MoMA reported in a press release, had a design that showed “a trend towards lightness of appearance, unusual flexibility in the control of light, and multiplicity of use.” [1] This cylindrical lamp with atomic-style design perches lightly on cork-ball feet and by moving the upper portions of its rod legs, the degree of light reflected on the flat metal shade could be controlled and customized. Crate, a 25-year-old designer in the styling division at General Motors fit the profile of the typical contributor to the competition, who MoMA identified as “young” and “relatively unknown.” [2]

The lamp’s futuristic and attenuated styling represented a strong attempt at modern styling in lighting, a field just growing at the time of the competition. As MoMA lamented. “Light as a structural element had become an essential feature of modern architecture. However, little was available in the field of portable lamps that would properly supplement furniture and accessories for the modern interior.” [3] Heifetz put ten of the winning designs into production and these objects reached consumers through stores, who acted as co-sponsors of the exhibition, and local museums, who showed the prize-winners in a circulating exhibition.

This object was donated by George R. Kravis II. It is credited Gift of George R. Kravis II.

  • Ball Wall Clock, 1949
  • assembled wood, painted wood, steel rods, sheet metal.
  • Gift of The Mel Byars Collection.
  • 1991-26-1

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Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 63.5 × 30.5 × 38.1 cm (25 × 12 × 15 in.)

Cite this object as

T-3-C Table Lamp, 1951; spun aluminum, enameled aluminum, stainless steel rods, cork; H x W x D: 63.5 × 30.5 × 38.1 cm (25 × 12 × 15 in.); Gift of George R. Kravis II; 2018-22-53

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Energizing the Everyday: Gifts From the George R. Kravis II Collection.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/404734379/ |title=T-3-C Table Lamp, 1951 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=16 October 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>