L.C. Tiffany

Great Design

I think an important trait of ‘great design’ is the ability for a product to withstand time. Over the decades, many products have surfaced, had a period of popularity and then been discarded as tastes have evolved. For a product to still be appreciated hundreds of years after it was first introduced is something I find truly fascinating. Although designed over 130 years ago, Tiffany lamps continue to have a place in the home today.


These beautiful statement lamps were designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany in the late 19th century. Tiffany started out as a painter before branching out into interior design. His interiors, often featuring stain glass windows, lead him to become very successful and he even designed for The White House. In the 1890s, Tiffany decided to focus on designing lamps which would champion his stain glass aesthetic. It’s worth noting at this point that Tiffany came from an exceptionally wealthy background. His father founded Tiffany & Co who’s designer jewellery I’m sure you’re familiar with. Growing up in a rather lavish lifestyle had a notable influence on his work and can be seen in the intricately detailed lamps he designed. He had a great appreciation of the arts and crafts movement and it’s fine craftsmanship which led him to create these beautifully crafted pieces. 


The form of the lamps is very organic which clearly reflects his main inspiration – nature. The dragonfly lamp in particular is one of my favourite designs, I love the blue colour palette that is reflected in his glasswork. The iridescent finish of Tiffany’s work is what makes his lamps truly unique. His trademark ‘Favrile glass’ was created through a unique process involving exposing molten glass to a combination of vapours and metal oxides. This glass texture was developed to imitate glass natural stones such as agate.


Tiffany was a part of the ‘aesthetic movement’ and that is very clear in his lighting designs. I think that’s what makes his lamps so timeless, they are just so classically beautiful that they haven’t been affected by the changes in style over the decades. The influence of nature played a big part in this, the natural environment isn’t something that goes out of fashion.

Unfortunately if you are now keen to get your hands on one of these stunning lamps, you better start saving. Original Tiffany lamps can be extortionate, costing thousands and in some special cases selling at auction for over a million. This kind of price is just unrealistic for the common person. I guess one way of looking at it is most people who own an original Tiffany lamp have had it in their families for generations. It’s the kind of object you would put in your will, intended for your next of kin to inherit.


Tiffany lamps are, in my opinion, exemplary examples of design. As much as my environmental side is questioning the necessity of these lamps and why their price is so high, I can’t help but be in awe of their undeniable beauty. They are the kind of objects that bring many people real joy to look at and I think that is an important feature of great design.

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