Design Moments: Super Lamp by Martine Bedin, c 1981

Lamp designed in 1979 was first put on display at Memphis exhibition in Milan gallery

We are especially visually attuned to children’s playthings at this time of the year but at any time “Super Lamp” would instantly evoke images of an old fashioned toy. The charming pull-along kind from a more simple era.

Its name is of course ironic – especially because when it was designed fashionable domestic lighting was tending towards the brutally industrial.

It was designed in 1979 by Martine Bedin, an architecture graduate who studied in both France and Italy. That it was only made in 1981 hints at its key provenance – it was first put on display at the Memphis exhibition at the Milan gallery, Arc 74, in 1981.


Founded by Ettore Sottsass, Memphis was an influential movement created by a group of designers in Milan forging what they called a new international style, reacting against the vogue for monochrome functional objects with bright colours, playful shapes and visually outrageous, almost comic designs.


This lamp was made of painted steel with simple light bulbs. Bedin designed most of the lighting for that Memphis show.

Of her work she has said: “I was very interested in working in decoration through structure and the building of things. What gives pattern and decoration in my lamps is the way of building them – the cables etc.”

David Bowie’s large collection of Memphis furniture went on sale in Sotheby’s in November. His Super Lamp carried a pre-auction estimate of $250-$350. It sold for $11,250, which even with its celebrity provenance is a significant price.