Flos’s Bilboquet Table Lamp Is Radical in its Simplicity

Designed for disassembly, the Philippe Malouin–designed ball-and-socket joint lamp is both functional and sustainable.

In most desk lamps, the critical design detail is the joint that allows users to direct and hold the beam where it’s needed. The iconic British Anglepoise lamp does this through a system of springs, and Richard Sapper’s ingenious 1972 Tizio lamp uses a system of counterbalancing weights. For Flos’s Bilboquet lamp, London-based designer Philippe Malouin chose a ball-and-socket joint—like the one in your shoulder—and this opened up new possibilities for both function and sustainability.

“It’s simple in appearance but full of personality,” Malouin says. The movable cylindrical arm that contains the LED bulb is magnetically attached to a shining ball that in turn sits in a hollow cylinder. The cable runs straight into the movable arm, meaning the light can be not only directed but also completely detached from the base. “Bilboquet shines light where it is needed,” Malouin says.

Portrait of Phillippe Malouin
British-Canadian designer Philippe Malouin

This almost childlike simplicity—the lamp is named for a traditional French toy that is widely known as cup and ball—belies the sensitive engineering that makes Bilboquet durable and sustainable. The entire lamp can be disassembled, and every part can be repaired and replaced. Even the LED bulb has a standard dimension and is detachable from the fixture, making it easy to replace or upgrade as lighting technologies change. The iron ball, which is the heart of the design, is finished with a surface treatment called physical vapor deposition rather than the typical anticorrosive galvanic coating. Both the metal cylinder that holds the LED and the bioplastic base come in the Gen Z– and millennial-friendly colors of Linen, Tomato, and Sage—hues that are intrinsic to the material, and not the result of painting or coating. 

Bilboquet represents a new generation of lighting—infinitely versatile in use, tailored to the tastes of our times, and prepared for a planet-friendlier future. 

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