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Table Lamp

This is a table lamp. It was designed by Walter von Nessen. It is dated ca. 1935 and we acquired it in 2016. Its medium is turned aluminum, brass, molded bakelite. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Resembling an engine piston, this table lamp by Walter von Nessen for Pattyn Products shows the influence of machine geometries on the design of domestic objects in the 1930s. Unevenly graduated segments in alternating bands of aluminum and brass give the base and body of the lamp a sense of visual rhythm and appear to twist. Precisely stacked rigid thin circular discs that make up the shade look ready to slice at any moment. Along with a frosted glass canister, these disks also represented an experiment in diffusing light. The dynamic styling of this object belies its static function. The component parts of this lamp not only evoke machine parts but are in fact products of mechanized production; each of these components is a basic shape that could have been fabricated with ease. Von Nessen’s training in Berlin as an architect under Bruno Paul and as a furniture designer working for Peter Behrens influenced his often rigidly geometric and utilitarian aesthetics that he applied to lighting and furniture designs.

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

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Its dimensions are

H x diam.: 50.2 × 20.3 cm (19 3/4 in. × 8 in.)

Cite this object as

Table Lamp; Designed by Walter von Nessen (American, 1889 - 1943); turned aluminum, brass, molded bakelite; H x diam.: 50.2 × 20.3 cm (19 3/4 in. × 8 in.); Gift of George R. Kravis II; 2016-5-14

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= |title=Table Lamp |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=29 November 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>