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Object Timeline

-0001

1933

  • Work on this object began.

1943

  • Work on this object ended.

2009

  • We acquired this object.

2017

  • You found it!

Floor Lamp (USA), designed 1928; this example made ca. 1938

This is a Floor lamp. It was designed by Walter von Nessen and manufactured by Nessen Studios, Inc.. It is dated designed 1928; this example made ca. 1938 and we acquired it in 2009. Its medium is chrome-plated metal. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Walter von Nessen virtually pioneered the field of residential lighting. Born and trained in furniture design in Germany during the 1920s, von Nessen immigrated to the United States in 1925 and opened Nessen Studios in New York City in 1927. His practice was almost exclusively devoted to the design and fabrication of architectural lighting. He quickly created a name for himself, attracting the attention of leading architects with his sleek industrial designs. Von Nessen began to receive commissions to design lighting and other household items for top clients and was among the first wave of American industrial designers.
This chrome floor lamp is a prime example of the ingenuity, functionalism, and modern materials that characterized his work. Von Nessen accented the top of the lamp with three concentric conical forms, which act as uplights. The forms are an ingenious way to diffuse, control, and direct light. The lamp’s reeded stem extends down from the center of the inverted cones to a stepped circular foot resting on four conical feet, which add a touch of visual symmetry.
The lamp was part of the original furnishings for a bar room with black lacquered walls at Duke Farms, the New Jersey home of heiress and philanthropist, Doris Duke. The uplighting would have produced a dramatic effect against the black background.
This lamp, a fine example of streamlined design, will be the first example of von Nessen’s lighting design in the museum’s collection.

This object was donated by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. It is credited Gift of Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Our curators have highlighted 8 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Table Lamp, ca. 1935
  • turned aluminum, brass, molded bakelite.
  • Gift of George R. Kravis II.
  • 2016-5-14
This object has not been digitized yet.

Its dimensions are

H: 173.4 cm (5 ft. 8 1/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Floor Lamp (USA), designed 1928; this example made ca. 1938; Designed by Walter von Nessen (American, b. Germany, 1889 - 1943); chrome-plated metal; H: 173.4 cm (5 ft. 8 1/4 in.); Gift of Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; 2009-17-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18733657/ |title=Floor Lamp (USA), designed 1928; this example made ca. 1938 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=22 March 2017 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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