Top-Down Design

Inga Sempé realizes an elegant, user-friendly take on a desk light.


HEIGHT: 19 inches

WIDTH: 15 inches

Several years ago, the Parisian designer Inga Sempé dreamed of a different kind of clamp lamp: instead of being fixed in place by a screw beneath the table, waiting to meet with an unsuspecting knee, it would be secured from the top, with the stem of the lamp acting as a big screw. Her upside-down idea was finally realized earlier this year with the elegant w103, from the Swedish lighting company Wästberg. Unlike ordinary clamps, Sempé’s has a base with three holes, allowing the lamp to stand upright or at a 30-degree angle, and a simple cable-management system. “It’s sort of a rigid articulated lamp,” she says. The classic domed shade conceals three energy-efficient LEDs and gives the design the overall appearance of a giant thumbtack. Here Sempé takes us through the thinking behind w103, which is also available with a standard cast base and in a matte black or pink finish.

The shade is made out of hand-spun aluminum, and it tilts by turning on an axis. The shape is more or less a parabolic profile—a good shape for a lamp shade because it transmits light in the most efficient way.

I chose this strange pink-beige-gray because I like colors when they’re between many disunited colors. We’re planning to introduce more hues next year.

The stem of the lamp can screw into one of three holes that are set at different angles: straight, minus thirty degrees, or plus thirty degrees. Once you screw it in, you cannot change the angle unless you screw it into another hole.

If you don’t choose to have the hook hold your cable, you have the option of using it to hang, say, your bag or umbrella.

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