The Industrial Revolution of Lighting

“The industrial revolution was another of those extraordinary jumps forward in the story of civilization.” – Stephen Gardiner, English Politician


The Industrial Revolution can be defined as a period between the late 1700s through the 1800s that marked a total transition in our society from handmade to factory produced goods. In the simplest terms, it was a defining time in world history that made the current technologically advanced world we live in possible. However, what’s really important to us here is what those factories needed to produce for long hours at a time: light. The factories needed to stay lit into the hours of the night so workers could churn out more products. Beyond just being a pivotal moment in human history, it would eventually become one of the most popular décor and lighting styles of the 21st century.

So now we ask ourselves, how did we get from Thomas Edison’s lamp to something like the Canary Wharf Chandelier? If we skip forward some time we know that in part due to our friend the lightbulb architecture was booming. The windowless building was possible by the 1930s because workers could work for longer hours with just artificial light. Skyscrapers were popping up and these massive buildings weren’t only functional architecturally, they also created a need for decorative pieces that made these new buildings special beyond their tall heights. With this boom in architecture came a boom in interior décor. Lamps and decorative lighting quickly became acceptable and sought after pieces. Frode Rambusch started out designing murals and stained glassed windows and eventually expanded into making special lighting fixtures such as the Rambusch ceiling luminaire.

We’ve come a long way from Edison’s bulb pictured on the right to our industrial-style chandelier, the canary wharf. 

However, the iron and bronze décor that has become so popular now wasn’t necessarily a trend back then, it was the materials they had and used. Now in the year 2017, we see a return to using these materials to create industrial looks. Industrial décor can differ from another modern day décor for its use of raw looking materials. Industrial also strikes a balance between adding pieces and taking advantage of architectural features like exposed brick and piping. Let’s take a look at two industrial décor staples and their possible ancestors.

2 Industrial Trends & Their Predecessor

Exposed Features

Exposed piping and brick has been around forever. Older buildings provide this charm because that is simply the way they were built. However, now many people are looking for these types of features, and modern day builders and designers are willing to deliver. Whether dwellers leave their brick its natural tone or whitewash it for a more clean feel, brick walls are a great focal point for any space.

The modern apartment with exposed whitewashed brick and piping, compared to this Industrial Revolution-era factory with exposed pipes and ventilation systems.   

Cool Metals

The key to an industrial design is the materials used. These sleek metals with a rustic edge offer a depth that can make a simple piece the focal point of your room without any glitz or glimmer. Industrial design is not pretentious and has a uniqueness without having to try hard. The leather jacket of the interior design world is a well placed industrial lighting fixture. It’s a basic and something that can go with any room but takes some edge to rock it correctly.

You can’t help but notice the similarities in our bronze McCoy Pendant and the lighting fixtures in this vintage garment factory.  

Simplicity and functionality are essential in industrial décor – true industrial fans expect this in all of their pieces. Industrial décor is for the minimalist who may not want everything to be white and shiny. They want texture and rustic elements and they want it to make sense. Industrial pieces are a great way to give your space a bit of edge with a vintage twist, all without feeling like you’re trying too hard. What was once simply the way things were designed out of necessity during The Industrial Revolution has since become a powerhouse force in the design world. The Industrial Revolution and the industrial décor it brought along with it is nothing but proof that you can always draw design inspiration from the past.


Lighting A Revolution: Consequences of Edison’s Lamp 

The Industrial Revolution 




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