First invented in 1932 by an automotive engineer, the Anglepoise task lamp is known for its practicality. Pivoting arms make it easy to position the lamp with a light touch while a clever spring, crank, and lever mechanism holds that position after you let go, directing light exactly where you need it. Since then, the task lamp has been copied and reimagined many times over, but almost always maintains its basic, rather masculine and utilitarian form. In the hands of ceramicist Soyida Akhtar, however, it has transformed into something softer and more modern without losing any functionality.
Titled “21’ Abandon Darkness,” referencing a new Anglepoise brand slogan, Akhtar’s reinvention of the task light takes inspiration from Anglepoise lamps’ “ability to illuminate and demarcate, something we have all needed help with this past year, as work, study, and leisure have all bled into one.” Her version starts with what looks like a ceramic jug, adding a swiveling strip of LED lights perfect for illuminating a work surface.
Akhtar started with a plaster model “made to get a sense of shape and visualize ideas,” she explains. “At this point, the discussion into how the light source will work within the product began to develop. 21 is the next generation of iconic Anglepoise lamp, revamped and reimagined to encourage deep productive work and support well-being.”
The Staffordshire University graduate created the lamp as part of her final school projects. In the past, she has experimented with different shapes that give her ceramics a variety of moods, like Brutalist forms crafted on a plaster lathe and simple ceramic spheres pierced with holes to act as the base of a small table. But Akhtar’s ceramics are perhaps at their most interesting when they embrace irregularity, softness, and asymmetrical shapes, as with the bases for her Wedgwood lighting project.
The Wedgwood series is a modular lighting concept Akhtar has been working on since 2019. She was invited, along with two other students in the 3D Design Maker degree course, to propose concepts for functional wares and lighting that focus on the theme of well-being for Wedgwood, a British fine china and porcelain company known for being one of the largest manufacturers of Staffordshire pottery.
“Knowing that Wedgwood wanted to continue with my lighting design and believed that it fits well with their brand, has given me a [boost] of confidence in myself as a designer-maker,” Akhtar told Ceramic Review. “It felt rewarding to know that I was able to design a product with a specific live brief.”
Ahktar took inspiration from traditional Wedgwood ceramic designs and her research into contemporary lighting, looking specifically at stackable shapes that would ultimately give her design its modularity. After modernizing the shapes she found in old Wedgwood catalogs, the designer crafted her unique table lamps that glow softly from within the ceramic forms. Akhtar’s Instagram provides a fun inside look at her process, from early sketches to the final finished objects.
“Design made me think in a methodical and rational way,” Akhtar told Wallpaper. “It also stimulated my thinking and got the cogs spinning – I love it when that happens, and I like the practical side. In the past year I’ve come to appreciate ‘thinking through making.’”