Keeping a design icon alive

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April 7, 2014 by Matt

I recently found myself in the satisfying position of being a (very very) small part of a long and fascinating story that started in 1925 in the big picture, and came in to my world 6 months ago, so I’ll try to give you the short version.

Dorte and I had been looking for lights for a long time to have in our lounge, and especially around the records and player in the corner. We found some we knew we liked, but they weren’t cheap, so we hesitated for a while as we looked around. Then one day, we decided to take the plunge and buy two different versions of the Bestlite by Gubi (as I knew it then). As we looked online to check colours and measurements, I came across the full story of this beautiful lamp, and it struck home in more ways than one.

They look good even when they're not on

The light was designed by one Robert Dudley Best, owner of what was the world’s largest lighting factory in the nineteenth century, in Birmingham, where I was born. (Okay – so the light was made by a local lad. Keep talking…)

For a long time it has been recognised as a design classic, after Best spent time with Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus school of design. (That’s cool – I just liked it now, didn’t realise it had a reputation.) Winston Churchill had one on his desk and there are version of it in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Design Museum, both in London. (Okay, wow – it really does have a reputation).

But then for reasons I haven’t quite managed to get on top of, it seemed to fall off its perch for a while, until the owner of Gubi, a Danish design company, saw a Bestlite in a second hand store and decided to investigate. He then bought the patent to it, and brought it back to life. (Thus neatly dovetailing the UK and Denmark, my two homes, and making this whole story relevant to post here).

If I was having any second thoughts about spending the money, when I read that, I just fell for it completely. And after a long wait for delivery, we now have two beautiful brass Bestlites in our lounge, shedding their historical light on the our record collection.

I couldn’t have asked for more, really.

Two Bestlites in pride of place


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