Modern Classics: The George Nelson Bubble Lamp

9 Sep

I covet a George Nelson bubble lamp.  Actually, I covet a variety of them.  So it’s no surprise that I loved this post below by Apartment Therapy.  I also love these George Nelson Bubble Lamp inspired necklaces by Alexandra Keller that I found on Etsy.  Super cute.  Super reasonable ($30).  You know, in case anyone wants to buy me a present.

Nelson cigar 2 necklace - mid century modern - recycled and vintage jewelry

Modern Classics: Nelson Bubble Lamps


 If there was a top ten list of the most recognizable modern design pieces ever, there’s no doubt George Nelson’s Bubble Lamps would be on it. Though they come in quite the variety of sizes and shapes, their core design — a space-ship like, self-webbing plastic lamp — is the look that many folks gravitate to when looking for an element to add a touch of modern design to a space.

First created in 1947, Nelson Bubble Lamps were designed to be made up of materials that were developed for military use, which was typical in the postwar era. You can learn more about their history and read about them in George Nelson’s own words in this history of the bubble lamp.

Its rich history aside, the soul of the Nelson Bubble Lamp is its ability to blend perfectly with many different styles and also stick out just enough to add a punch of personality. Some might call a Nelson Bubble Lamp a safe choice (they’re not a crazy color or particularly “loud”), but we don’t think so. Any time you use one of these lights in a space, there’s a strong energy that permeates the whole room. It’s a bold choice, and a classic one. We grabbed some shots from around the web that show how great George Nelson Bubble Lamps look in a variety of spaces, from traditional to very modern.

Check out other Nelson lamp perfection at the blogs below.

1. Simple and bright at The Brick House
2. Corner classic in Marsi & Robert’s Bright and Tidy Southern Ranch
3. Looks perfect with wood. John Lum Architecture, Inc. via Houzz
4. Living room lovely from SF Girl by Bay
5. With the wood ceiling, from another angle by John Lum Architecture, Inc.

6. Hollywood regency via Desire to Inspire
7. Vintage and dramatic in the Brooklyn home of Jordan Provost and Jason Wong via Design*Sponge
8. A lucky break in Dwell Magazine
9. Simple and sleek in Vancouver via
10. Global-inspired in a dining room by Aaron Hom

What do you think? Feel like you need one for your space now? Find resources for where to get one or more in this post.


8 Responses to “Modern Classics: The George Nelson Bubble Lamp”

  1. Stacey September 9, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    Nice post Brandy! I love our lamps and I have to agree with you and Dana. Our vintage ones have that aged yellow glow! We also have a new one and it’s VERY white… which is okay… but you’re right, the old ones are awesome. Love the names too.. cigar, apple, saucer. They’re really special!

    • Dana@Mid2Mod September 9, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

      We’ve actually sold some really old ones, as well as some much newer ones, and they were all gorgeous. I think I’d want a newer one where I really need good light, like over a reading chair.

      • Stacey September 10, 2012 at 8:59 am #

        Absolutely! We have two in our dining and two in our living but removed one in the living room for the exact reason you mentioned. That yellow glow just isn’t quite “bright” enough. Our new cigar/table lamp is bright white and really lovely. I wonder if the newer ones will darken over time? hummmm… I guess I’ll find out. People go crazy for the old ones, though! I’ve sold a couple of them (even with tears).

    • September 10, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

      Thanks, Stacey. And if you ever want to get rid of more, let me know!

  2. Dana@Mid2Mod September 9, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    I especially love the way vintage Nelson lamps have yellowed over the years. They give off such a wonderful, warm glow.

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