For correct posture, you’ve set up a standing desk and an ergonomic office chair in your new work-from-home station. A desk lamp, in addition to providing more lighting than your computer’s blue-light glow, may also lend an element of (useful) style to your work environment, making even the most haphazardly assembled workstations appear more put together. In order to identify the greatest and most attractive desk lights — from traditional task lamps to modern light sculptures — we spoke with architects, interior designers, and other individuals who appreciate form in addition to function. There is a desk light for just about everyone on our list, which comes in a variety of pricing ranges.
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Best under-$100 desk lamps
Shannon Retseck, the creator of textile and home-goods company Cuttalossa, informed us about this iron light, which is objectively affordable. In addition to mustard yellow, this lamp is also available in black, mint green, and white. The lamp features an angled arm and a swiveling, flared shade.
Páll Hjaltason, owner and creator of Pls Arkitektar, recommends this Ikea desk light for its price and usefulness. For his expanding studio, he acquired a lot of them. “They’re all over the place,” he explains. Designed with a nickel-plated steel head and an acrylic arm, this lamp features an LED light and can be adjusted to send the light in any direction you choose. Because it is “generic” in design, Hjaltason likes that it rests on the desk rather than being attached to it, as some of the other lights on this list (such as the one below) need. “I can always buy more of these,” he says, if he needs to replace one.
Peter Dumbadze’s desk light is a clip lamp, which is equally as flexible and even cheaper than a desk lamp. “I’ve been using clamp lamps for years,” he says, “since I can get them at my local hardware store, Mazzone Hardware in Carroll Gardens.”
With a suction cup built onto its base, Chris Black’s mini-lamp may be placed almost anywhere. Chris describes it as “timeless, functional, and elegant.” It was designed by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni and originally debuted in 1962.
Mark Warren, co-founder and designer for ceramics company Haand, recommends this LED work light from Wisamic, calling it “powerful and cheap.”
Best under-$200 desk lamps
If you’re looking for something a little more conventional, Retseck offers this banker-style desk light. A “nostalgic mood” is created by its green shade and brass arm, which evoke the color scheme of banker’s lights, she explains. With a circular base with a cutout, this lamp isn’t too traditional.
Scott Oliver, a partner at Noroof Architects, has been using this compact LED desk light as a regular table companion. This halogen model was purchased more than 30 years ago, and it is still in use today. Silver, white, and black versions of the lamp, which tilts and dims with a touch, are available.
A Hay lamp is a favorite of Carrie Carrollo, a well-known interior designer. I love lights that don’t seem like desk lamps since my workspaces have always been multipurpose, she informed us. His basic design comprises a powder-coated die-cast aluminum and steel arm with a thin profile. Lighting may be adjusted to emit ambient or direct light. It’s now on sale for 15 percent discount, says Carrollo.
The Wooj industrial and furniture design firm in Brooklyn created this sculptural 3-D-printed desk light. A new direct-to-consumer couch business, Sabai, recommends it. As she puts it, “the design has an amazing, ethereal quality to it that really brightens up a room and gives it a beautiful, airy sense.” Featuring a three-legged black, terracotta, or green base, the lamp is manufactured of heat-resistant maize plastic.
Hay’s conical, pleated shade is available in a variety of colors, including red, green, lavender, yellow, and more, according to Le Whit’s Liza Curtiss and Corey Kingston.
Carrollo thinks the light’s minuscule size is also its greatest asset. The mushroom lamp is little under nine inches tall. Because she lives in a small New York City apartment, her work places have always been multipurpose — a bistro table she could work and dine from or a desk that doubled as a vanity and storage. This cordless lamp, designed by Jaime Hayon for &Tradition, provides ten hours of illumination on an eight-hour charge. He calls it “charming” and notes that it creates “a beautiful, gentle, even light.” Black also praises the setago.
As tabletop and floor lights, designers admire Isamu Noguchi’s Akari light sculptures. Jonathan Marvel, the founder of Marvel Architects, adds, “I’ve been using this exact light for decades.” Former Strategist senior editor Simone Kitchens used a Noguchi lamp to give her desk a “cozy, glow-y living-room feel” Marvel loves that Noguchi took the craft of traditional paper lanterns and turned it into a contemporary light.
Luxos are probably the most well-known (and classic) task lights, with the L1 model serving as the apparent inspiration for Pixar’s logo.. “The traditional workhorse lamp seen in many architectural offices for more than 50 years,” says Jane Greenwood, partner of Kostow Greenwood Architects. “This is the desk light that my architect husband has multiples of,” she says, dubbing it “the black T-shirt of architect desk lamps.”
Best under-$300 desk lamps
Luxo lights are the black T-shirts of architect task lamps, whereas Anglepoise task lamps are the white T-shirts of the industry. It’s “super-classic” and “looks excellent everywhere,” says architect Mei Lun Xue. However, the Type 75’s shade is more streamlined than the Original 1227’s while the Original 1227’s is more technical in appearance. According to Brian Wilson, a co-founder of San Francisco-based office-furniture business Pair, “Both are exquisite in their own way with traditional silhouettes and forms that have been updated with new finishes and colors.” Architecture and interior designer Ming Thompson likes Anglepoise’s Type 75 light because it finds a balance between clean, contemporary shapes and exposed mechanical parts.
Pixo Plus, a Pablo Designs table lamp, was also mentioned by interior designer Kendall Wilkinson and FXCollaborative partner Angie Lee. According to Lee, “The Pixo has a pleasant, whimsical design that combines high-tech LED and USB-charging capabilities and is unexpectedly warm in illumination temperature.”
Nina Edwards Anker, principal and founder of architecture and interior-design firm nea studio, and Danielle Rago and Honora Shea, co-founders of architectural agency THIS X THAT, both praised Flos’ mushroom-style Bellhop lamp (Rago and Shea, along with Anker, Thompson, Curtiss, and Kingston, are members of the Female Design Council, a collective of female-identified professionals working in design). Rago and Shea like this smaller alternative because of its size, stating, “It’s minuscule in size, so you can bring it everywhere.” It charges by USB and has a 24-hour battery life when charged, according to the maker. They remark that the “light is gentle,” and that you’ll never get tired of staring at this lamp: “It looks like candy for your desk.”
Thompson’s home is outfitted with CB2’s Domes lamp, which sticks out from the crowd with its unique design of a cylindrical marble base topped with two dome lights coated in matte-black iron shades. She describes the lamp as “kind of a modern library table lamp, throwing light downward in a warm glow,” with a distinctive shape and rich color that “cuts an appealing figure.”
While it may appear to be a lamp from an antique shop, interior designers Virginia Toledo and Jessica Geller of Toledo Geller believe the meticulous details are a key reason why it’s worth the extra price. “From the extremely functional integrated USB connections and outlets to the high-style leather touch sensor and fabric-wrapped cable, this tiny lamp has it all.” They also appreciate how the cone-style shade can spin 360 degrees and pivot 180 degrees. And they had two words for the lamp’s sky-blue hue accentuated by saddle leather: “very stylish.”
Warren recommends the Roxter utility work light because it “is a workhorse and engineered to be mistreated.” The lamp features a gooseneck light, a flexible arm that can be adjusted to almost any position, and a magnetic base meant to attach to equipment. If you’re wondering how Warren knows so much about the lamp’s endurance, it’s because he got it from his grandpa, who used it in his garage workshop. “It has an extraordinarily powerful magnet in its base that is intended to latch onto metal lathes and heavy equipment without being thrown off by vibrations,” he explains.
Noguchi isn’t the only designer of lamps that serve as works of art: Jenny Kaplan, co-founder of design firm An Aesthetic Pursuit, recommends this 3-D–printed lamp that can be positioned upright or on its side, making it a sculptural statement piece. Kaplan says she “loves the geometric stripes in the lamp, which give a modest design touch to any environment in an unobtrusive way,” designed by Ammunition for lighting manufacturer Gantri.
Best splurge-worthy desk lamps
While Greenwood adores the L-1 Luxo light, which she describes as “sitting at the apex of mid-century design,” her personal favorite is the Tolomeo table lamp, created by Michele De Lucchi and Giancarlo Fassina and manufactured in Italy for Artemide. She describes it as “at the verge of the technology boom” in terms of design, citing characteristics such as its aluminum composition, completely adjustable arm with polished die-cast aluminum joints, and tension-control knobs. The shade of the lamp rotates 360 degrees thanks to “a distinctive ‘paper clip’ handle,” according to Greenwood, who describes the item as “a fantastic combination of clean lines, circular hinges, and exposed cabling.” It is available with a weighted base, table clamp, and inset pivot.
This Koncept light is as simple as it gets, and it comes highly recommended by Guy Geier, managing partner of FXCollaborative. It includes a telescopic arm that enables you to adjust the lamp’s height, a circular base with a built-in USB charging connector, and a thin dimmable LED light that can be adjusted by touch (you can even change the temperature of the light between warm and cool). The lamp’s head also spins, and if you forget to turn off the lights at the end of the day, it can be set to go down automatically with the help of a timer. “I did a lot of study before settling on this,” Geier adds. “The lamp has modern, basic, clean lines, and I appreciate its matte-black finish and LED dimmable light source.” It is also available in red, silver, and white, in addition to black.
Clifford Selbert, the founding partner of Selbert Perkins Design, says he’s had several desk lights over the years, including the Luxo, which was his first. He now uses the NJP light, which was developed by Japan’s Nendo studio as a reworking of a traditional architect’s lamp for Louis Poulsen. “It updates the Luxo approach with a more elegant form, and it offers lovely diffused light,” says Selbert, who adds that the lamp features two streamlined arm joints and a shade that “stays cool to the touch and enables for easy adjustment.” ” He says that the “warm” light has “various brightness settings.”
Entler’s porcelain table lamp is a splurge-worthy light that looks unlike any other on our list, according to production designer Anastasia White. It has a more organic form, brass hardware and embellishments, and a cloth-covered cord, which she describes as “contemporary, traditional, and playful.” White adores the downward-focused light’s usefulness, as well as the “anthropomorphic character of the shape,” which she describes as “giving the impression of a creature looking over your work.” White favors the matte-black finish, although it is also available in a variety of gloss and matte glazes, including pink, yellow, chartreuse, and lavender.