Floor Lamp (USA), designed 1928; this example made ca. 1938
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.
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Cite this object as
Floor Lamp (USA), designed 1928; this example made ca. 1938; Previously owned by Doris Duke (American, 1912–1993); chrome-plated metal; 2009-17-1
This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s.