Design by Decade – 1940s Lighting at Lightology

The 1940s were a tumultuous time for many. Contradictions between Traditionalism and Modernism that took root in the ‘30s found full expression in the war-torn years in the first half of this decade. Families longing for some semblance of normalcy favored traditional home décor, but a spillover of the Streamline-Deco-Jazz Age still pervaded. Modernist design movements were largely put on hold but began to regain traction once the war came to an end in 1945, and post-war America saw the rapid evolution of the Mid-Century Modern design movement. An emphasis on simplicity, function and personality was hugely influential in architecture and industrial design in the latter half of the decade.

Here are some of our favorite representations of 1940’s design in lighting.




Schoolhouse LED Semi Flush Mount by Stone Lighting


Schoolhouse LED Ceiling Semi Flush Mount by Stone Lighting

The Schoolhouse style, which debuted decades earlier, was still around in the 1940s. Families sought traditionalism and yearned for a simpler time, and Schoolhouse fixtures spoke to that nostalgia. The style represented the essence of normalcy, sentimentality and innocence, while still catering to the desire for clean design and functionality. As a whole, the Schoolhouse fixture’s style took hold of both the evolving modern design movement while still highlighting an older American approach. This particular fixture blends vintage design with modern LED lighting technology for the best of both worlds.




Coast Guard Patrol Spotlight by Authentic Models


Coast Guard Patrol Spotlight by Authentic Models

The Coast Guard Patrol Spotlight would be right at home aboard a naval ship from the 1940s. Although lights just like this were primarily used for industrial purposes, they also found their way into the homes of the elite as statement pieces. Recreated from old designs with impeccable craftsmanship, the Coast Guard floor lamp adds a sense of subtle drama and character to a room. The legs of the tripod are made of rosewood, wood being a very popular material in the ‘40s. The attached coil allows the lamp adjustable height. The Coast Guard Patrol tripod floor lamp combines visual stimulus with the severity and weight of the war period.




Grashoppa Floor Lamp (1947)


Grashoppa Floor Lamp by Gubi

Designed by Greta Grossman, a pioneer in Scandinavian design, the Grashoppa combines the playful attitude of Jazz Moderne with Modernism. The theme of nature was heavily emphasized in the 1940s, and the Grashoppa’s organic form resembles that. Its stance allows us the impression that the lamp could spring into action at any moment. This floor lamp’s clean, sophisticated design and soft color variations mimic the sentimentality the 1940s emulated. The Grashoppa is artful yet functional. The elongated aluminum conical shade is jointed to the arm, which allows the lamp to produce directional light without creating glare. The floor lamp commands the space it occupies, lending the space its own unique personality. The Grashoppa lamp clearly speaks to the mixed feelings of the 40s, the sense of austerity married with fun, striking design.




Henry Wall Sconce by Hubbardton Forge


Henry Wall Sconce by Hubbardton Forge

The Henry Wall Sconce by Hubbardton Forge, is reminiscent of a vintage architect’s boom sconce. Though not as rich in color as a Grossman floor lamp, the Henry still speaks to several qualities that 1940s design had to offer. Although metal was used cautiously due to its scarcity after the war, the Henry Sconce embodies the appreciation and rarity of the material at the time. Further, the 40s valued multi-purpose designs, acknowledging the desire for visual stimulation, spaciousness and functionality, all of which can be found in the Henry Sconce. Its form is visually appealing, acting as truly functional art, all while remaining respectful to the need for a roomy home layout. With clean lines and articulated arms, the Henry Wall Sconce gives purpose to the space it occupies.




Steamer Deck Lamp Pendant by Authentic Models


Steamer Deck Lamp Pendant by Authentic Models

A classic combination of maritime themes with industrial lighting and the earliest emergence of midcentury design, the Steamer Deck Pendant by Authentic Models is a playful interpretation of 1940s design. The caged glass and chain link suspension is reminiscent of lanterns lighting the passages of steamships from the early 20th century and beyond. The perfect fixture for illuminating stony hallways and outdoor settings, the Steamer Deck Pendant is a fine example of timeless design that spans the decades.




Jordaan Wall Lamp by CreativeMary


Jordaan Wall Lamp by CreativeMary

The Jordaan Wall Lamp from CreativeMary is an ingenious take on 1940s lighting. The name “Jordaan” is inspired by the French word, “Jardin,” which means “garden.” Motivated by soft, floral forms, a popular motif at the time, the Jordaan Wall Light provides the refreshing and calm atmosphere those in the 1940s sought throughout the decade. The wall light provides quality, direct illumination that caters to the functionality of the decade, perfect for leisure activities like reading. The brass finish combined with the spring-like arm and dual shades allow the fixture exciting, original expression while remaining true to the conflicting emotions of the period.



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