‘Iconic’ is a word that's overused, but in the case of Anglepoise, it’s perfectly apt. The familiar silhouette of the Original 1227 Anglepoise lamp has become part of our everyday lives and like ‘Hoover’ and ‘Kleenex’, the name itself has entered into the common lexicon.

You’ll find the Original 1227 lamp in the bedrooms at High Road House and in our East London shared working space, Soho Works, while the oversized ceiling pendant version makes a statement when hung in multiples at Barber & Parlour in Shoreditch. Here’s the story behind this British design classic.

 

 

It all started back in 1855, when family firm Herbert Terry & Sons Ltd. began manufacturing springs for the trade. By the 1920s those springs were used in everything from bicycle saddles to car valves. Then along came automotive engineer George Carwardine with an ingenious theory about balancing weights using springs, cranks and levers.

 

George Carwardine

In 1931 George Carwardine found a way to use Terry’s springs in an articulated task lamp that could be repositioned with the lightest touch, while remaining precisely in place once released. Launched in 1933, the first four-spring Anglepoise® lamp combined flexibility with perfect balance.

The birth of an icon

The first design was deemed too industrial for the domestic market, so in 1935 Carwadine and Terry’s launched a three-spring version, known as the Anglepoise Original 1227™. Still in production today, this version is considered the archetypal Anglepoise.

War work

Anglepoise lamps have played their own small but vital part in history, with Navigator’s lamps produced for World War II bombers between 1939-1944. One was found decades later in a Wellington bomber at the bottom of Loch Ness and when tested, was still operational. The plane, complete with working lamp, can be seen at the Brooklands Museum in Surrey.

'A minor miracle'

In 2003, Sir Kenneth Grange, himself responsible for some of Britains most iconic designs, from the Kenwood Mixer to the Kodak Instamatic, joined Anglepoise as Design Director. He has described the 1227, with its precision-engineered pivots and springs, as a ‘minor miracle of balance’.

 

In 2005 the Roald Dahl Museum commissioned Anglepoise to create a giant version of the Original 1227 that sat on the desk in Dahl’s writing hut. Of the three prototypes produced, one went to the Museum, director Tim Burton bought one and the third ended up in a design exhibition. They were so popular that the design went into production for the retail market.

Designers including Sir Paul Smith, Eley Kishimoto and Margaret Howell have brought their unique design perspectives to Anglepoise, creating special editions of the Original 1227 and Type 75 desk lamps that only serve to highlight their ergonomic elegance. In 2009 the 1227 was chosen to appear alongside the Routemaster bus, the K2 Telephone Kiosk, the London Underground Map and the Mini on a series of stamps celebrating great British design.

There can’t be many lamps that make themselves at home in such a wide variety of settings, from factories to film sets, homes to hotels, as well as galleries, museums, aircraft and stamps, but the Original 1227 has done just that. It’s testament to its flawless functionality and timeless style and proof that an Anglepoise is a lifetime investment.

High Road House

See how we mix vintage with contemporary at our West London club with bedrooms