When it comes to looking at different styles of lamps, the two things that make them distinctive are the shape of their bases and their height. This post is about lamp bases.
When it comes to lamp bases, there are basically four distinctive shapes and I’ve come up with words to describe them; they are candlestick, pillar, torch and urn. The shape that is classified as candlestick has the thinnest silhouette, with pillar and torch becoming progressively wider, and urn having the thickest / widest base silhouette of them all. In lamp base design, different shapes are not designated to certain categories; some of the shapes overlap each other as they go from one category to another. A shape that is classified as candlestick might inspire something in pillar, and pillar might translate into torch, and torch might blend into urn. As said before, when looking at the four categories, each of the lamp bases are getting thicker and heavier looking. Now let’s look at the four different shapes of lamp bases.
Candlestick.. Just as the name implies, candlestick bases resemble candlesticks. They are tall, thin and upright in shape, and might be fluted, grooved, ribbed or just plain pole-like tubular shapes. The candlestick shaped base has the narrowest silhouette of the four lamp base styles. Now look at illustration 1 which shows some examples of candlestick bases for lamps.
Pillar.. Pillar or “column” is the second category of lamp bases. It has the same upright silhouette as the candlestick, but is thicker. Pillar or column shaped lamp bases take a lot of their inspiration from classical Greek or Roman columns. They can be fluted, ribbed or just tubular vertical shapes. Everything about pillar shaped lamp bases leads your eye upward. Now look at illustration 2 which shows some examples of pillar / column shaped lamp bases.
Torch.. When I think about this category, an ancient Greek Olympic runner’s torch comes to mind. You can easily see one of these lamp bases acting as a torch, topped by an Olympic flame. The inspiration for this style of lamp base is the upright cone. Occasionally the cone shape is flipped, causing an inverted torch shaped lamp base. Now look at illustration 3 which shows upright and some inverted examples of torch shaped lamp bases.
Urn.. An “urn” is a vessel that typically has the form of a vase on a pedestal. They are all thick looking and possess a lot of volume. The lamp bases in this category are diverse in style. They can be classified as classical, traditional, country or contemporary, and made of metal, wood, stone, ceramic, resin, or glass. Box and can shapes are also in this category because of their visual weight. Now look at illustration 4 which shows different examples of urn shaped lamp bases.
Exotic and Whimsical Lamp Bases.. Every so often you come across a lamp base that does not fit into one of the categories just discussed. The lamp does not look like a candlestick, pillar, torch or urn. It might be what I call a whimsical or exotic style. The subject of these shapes of lamp bases might be a horse, monkey, palm tree, Chinese people in period garb, dogs, cats, birds, or maybe even the head of Elvis. When trying to figure out which of the four categories the lamp base you are looking at fits into, ask yourself how thick of a piece it is. A palm tree might be tall and thin like a candlestick, a trio of monkeys standing one upon the others shoulders might be a pillar, a bird with a longish neck might suggest a torch (inverted), and Elvis’s head might say urn to you.
So there you have it, a look at the four different shapes which make up lamp bases. For more information about lamps, look at the different articles I’ve posted..
The RIGHT height of Table Lamp for your End Table 5-19-2011,
Matching the Right shape End Table with a Table Lamp 1-12-2014
The answer to “Can you put a Floor Lamp next to a Sofa?” 10-4-2012,
Interior Decorating with ACCENT LAMPS 12-5-2012,
Interior Decorating with TABLE LAMPS 12-12-2012,
Interior Decorating with BUFFET LAMPS 12-19-2012.
Arranging Living Room Furniture, so Sofas talk to Chairs, like the Pros do 9-7-2012,
Arranging Furniture TWELVE different ways in the Same Room 9-15-2012,
The Right Way to Hang Curtains and Drapes 5-3-2011