A Brief History of: Pendant Lamps

If you’ve read any of my posts, you know that I love vintage and vintage-inspired interiors, especially mid-century and California ones. After writing the post about how everything is new again from the Edward Scissorhands movie stills, I’m inspired to look a little more in depth into vintage and vintage inspired homes. I am hoping to have short series of a few posts that examine some pretty elements from homes in the 1950s and 60s.

For this one, I’m going to look at sculptural pendant lamps. I was looking around for some vintage interior shots and found a ton to use on the Life Magazine photo archive site.

I like this living room and want to have it in my next house. The wood ceilings, walls of windows, patios on both sides, and overall laid-back California feel of the place seems so livable. (It’s actually in Martha’s Vineyard!) This house is so pretty, and you can see more pictures of it over at The Selvedge Yard.

But the focus of the picture is the pendant lamp in the foreground. I see these all the time these days. Where and how did they originate?

Pendant lamps apparently date back to ancient Greece, where they used to hang animal fats and perfumes in clay pots with wicks. Things have come a long way since then–more modern (from the middle of the century) pendant lamps have been inspired by industrial versions from the 1920’s and 30’s, like the one below. These are my favorite pendants right now.

1920's Pendant Lamp from DesignBoom

They also appear on either side of the bed in this 1954 vintage ad for Armstrong flooring.

Bedroom featuring pendant lamps from an ad, via Retro Renovation

Nowadays, pendant lamps are still inspired by industrial ones,  but they’re also made of colorful glass, can manifest themselves as huge chandeliers, or discount versions from Ikea, like the one below.

Ikea Pendant Lamp

Most home bloggers have probably written about pendant lamps, since they are ubiquitous in design. I like Michelle’s vintage industrial inspired one over her table, from Decor and the Dog:

Rustic Vintage Pendant Reproduction from Decor and the Dog

You can DIY a woven wooden pendant lamp, like they did on Poppytalk:

Poppytalk's DIY Pendant

I’d love to install an uber modern, uber high end pendant over my dining table some day, like this one, via Freshome:

Modern Pendant via Freshome

Or this fun pink one from Kartell, via Design*Sponge:

Pink Pendant via Design*Sponge

Emily from Go Haus Go even put in ‘pendant lamps’ in her dollhouse for the I’m a Giant Challenge! They are made from Christmas ornaments.

Dollhouse pendants from Go Haus Go


To be honest, I don’t have any pendant lights in my home. Maybe that’s why I’m slightly enamored with them. Do you have pendant lamps in your home? Any vintage ones? I’d love to hear about your connection to these historic pieces!



7 thoughts on “A Brief History of: Pendant Lamps

  1. Pingback: These 1960s Kitchen Design Trends Are Actually Coming Back - Delaram Art & Design

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  3. Pingback: Moderne Pendelleuchten für Bad und Küche

  4. Great research paper!!! I had a BRIGHT yellow pendant lamp in my bedroom in the 1970s. It was shiny plastic that we called ‘the wet look’. It also had a huge globe light bulb. I loved that lamp. It was very groovy and looked great with my apple green shag carpet! I can’t believe it would be considered cool again today!

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