When it comes to lighting it’s hard to go past some of the great
modernist designs of the post-war era. Whilst international
names such as Stilnovo, Poulsen and Lightolier continue to
dominate mid-century design books and auctions, it would
appear that very little is known about some of the brilliant
lighting that was designed and produced in Australia.
Rite Lite, Beecher, Daydream and Kempthorne all produced a
range of lighting inspired by the modern style. Check out some
of the the spectacular desk lamps and floor lamps produced by
Rite Lite which feature bold colours and anodized conical shades.
Of course there is the Calyx lighting range by Clement Meadmore,
who wrestled the metal lamp bases into submission before welding
them together in his garden shed. Lighting and sculpture combined
In a triumph of design and beauty.
In 1931, Owen and Selwyn Coffey founded Kempthorne, a Melbourne
based company that went on to become a household name. Throughout
the fifties Kempthorne produced a wide range of commercial and domestic
lighting, including the light fixtures for the 1956 Olympic Games held in
Many of the Australian designs were mass produced,
so it’s still possible to land yourself a bargain. The best
places to look are online, garage sales and Sunday markets.
Condition is important, so avoid lamps with too much rust and
damage. And remember to have your lamp rewired by a qualified
electrician, it doesn’t cost much and it’s worth it in the long run.
So shine a light on your modernist interior with a lovely lamp.