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Object Timeline

2011

  • Work on this object began.

2014

2017

  • You found it!

J.B. Schmetterling (Butterfly) Hanging Lamp, 2011

This is a hanging lamp. It was designed by Axel Schmid and Ingo Maurer and manufactured by Ingo Maurer GmbH. It is dated 2011 and we acquired it in 2014. Its medium is mouth-blown glass, 3d-printed (flexible free-formed) plastic, machined brass, halogen light source. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Ingo Maurer is one of the most creative and respected lighting designers working today. Since the 1960s, he has been a pioneer in the use of new lighting technologies and imaginative production techniques to investigate the "magical and mystical" qualities of light. The J. B. Schmetterling (butterfly in German) lamp explores this concept by infusing a simple light bulb with a poetic consideration of themes like nature and attraction.
This hanging lamp is based on the light bulb form of his 2002 design, the Johnny B. Good lamp. In this variation, Maurer has added eight highly realistic replicas of flying insects. Colorful iridescent butterflies, moths, and dragonflies attached to long pins are applied to the simple translucent band around the bulb. The scene appears to be a moment frozen in time, as captivated insects hover around the lamp's bright, dangerously hot light. To achieve this design, Maurer collaborated with Axel Schmid, a longstanding member of his design team, and worked with American nature photographer and artist, Graham Owen, who specializes in handmade life-like fishing lures and artificial insects for moviemakers. The lamp is an unusual combination of industrial and artisanal techniques, resulting in a functional form that allows the user to bring a sense of nature to an indoor environment. The form invites one to contemplate the beauty of nature, the beauty of light, and—on an existential level—the nature of attraction and compulsion.
Given Maurer’s creativity and innovations in the area of lighting, he is a designer the museum’s curators continue to follow. At the time of proposed acquisition, the museum holds a group a Maurer designs that have allowed us to trace his work from the late 1960s to the mid-1990s. The addition of the J.B. Schmetterling lamp would bring the museum’s collection of his work into the 21st century.

This object was featured in our Object of the Day series in a post titled A Little Bit of Spring.

This object was donated by Graham Owen and Ingo Maurer GmbH. It is credited Gift of Ingo Maurer GmbH and Graham Owen.

Our curators have highlighted 5 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Bulb Lamp, 1966
  • mold-blown glass, chrome-plated metal, incandescent bulb.
  • Gift of Ingo Maurer.
  • 2008-16-1-a,b
  • Edison Lamp, 1880
  • bamboo, glass, wood, brass, plaster, platinum, cork.
  • Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, Cat. 310579.01.
  • 14.2012.44

Its dimensions are

H x diam.: 46 x 32 cm (18 1/8 x 12 9/16 in.)

Cite this object as

J.B. Schmetterling (Butterfly) Hanging Lamp, 2011; Designed by Ingo Maurer and Axel Schmid; Germany; mouth-blown glass, 3d-printed (flexible free-formed) plastic, machined brass, halogen light source; H x diam.: 46 x 32 cm (18 1/8 x 12 9/16 in.); Gift of Ingo Maurer GmbH and Graham Owen; 2014-7-1-a/c

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Making Design.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/68250891/ |title=J.B. Schmetterling (Butterfly) Hanging Lamp, 2011 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=24 May 2017 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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