Timeless Good Design
Interior view of glass-walled house showing and arrangement of Mies van der Rohe furniture grouped with Johnson and Kelly's floor lamp. 1953
The collection
Floor lamp with three slender bronze legs and with a cylinder suspended between them and a shallow cone shade at the top in opaque white.
Designed by
Philip Johnson (1906–2005) and Richard Kelly (1910–1977)
Bronze, painted aluminum
Produced by
Edison Price, Inc., New York, New York
40.4 x 17.8 x 17.8 cm

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles D. O’Keiffe Jr., in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Charles DeWitt O’Keiffe, by exchange, D88.138.1*

Philip Johnson teamed with lighting designer Richard Kelly to create this low floor lamp for his 1948 Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. The shallow aluminum cone shade supported by delicate bronze legs shows the influence of Japanese design, which appealed to the minimal taste of modernists at midcentury.

A bronze canister limits the glare from the hidden bulb, which projects a beam of light into the white underside of the opaque shade to deflect the light downward, creating a pool of indirect light. Its simplified form, initially designed with only three legs (the more-stable four-legged version is seen in the Glass House interior photo above), and carefully defined functions, adhered to principles of Good Design advocated by Johnson at the Museum of Modern Art.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, photo: Denis Farley.