Just as the nation itself experienced a youth-fueled revolution in the second half of the 1960s, so did the world of lighting.
In both arenas, staid old ideas were re-imagined (or tossed out altogether) in search of fresh, colorful, experimental, and emotional directions that embodied the hope and groovy aspirations of a new generation and style – Mod.
Lightolier – always an industry leader when it came to postwar Modern lighting – was quick to pick up on European and Scandinavian trends and translate them for the American market. These 1966 pages reflect the infusion of fresh color, form and materials that would give Mod its appeal to a younger audience. (courtesy of Hagley Museum & Library)
By 1968, Lightolier had established itself as the mass-market go-to source for the latest in trending colors and materials – like the “smoke-tinted acrylic” and black-and-white or polka-dot printed shades above. Note they still offer Mid-Century Modern mainstays as well. (Rejuvenation archives)
Perhaps no spread captures the happy optimism of the flower-power era like this one – Fun-Lites from Lightcraft of California in 1969. “An explosion of flamboyant colors with refreshing new designs… will reflect a vitality and flair that’s ‘in’ with today’s fun generation!” (Rejuvenation archives)
Lightolier was WITH IT! in 1970 with a “new look inspired by swinging London and modern-made Milan.” Indeed – the La Ronde family was designed by Gaetano Sciolari. Spectacular copy touts the “spatial interplay” and “magnetic mystique” of the new ”Pristine. Peppy. Provocative. Now!” series for the “home of contemporania.” (Rejuvenation archives)
Another great selection of lights from Lightolier in 1970, including the iconic Lytegem, Baton, Lytebeam, Lyric and Interplay portables. (Rejuvenation archives)
On the left, from the 1970 Lightolier well that never runs dry, comes the Satellite series – “Switched on. Tuned in. With it. Suited to the genre of our times.” On the right, Metropolitan Lighting provides the obvious name to the popular fixtures of this type – Molecular. (Rejuvenation archives)
Metropolitan wasn’t only offering chemistry and physics in 1971 – they also covered zoology and haberdashery with the (we assume imported) “Hedgehog” “Fish” and “Bowler”… A Clockwork Orange, anyone? (Rejuvenation archives)
The Nebula family from Lightcraft of California in 1971. “A stunning innovation in chrome and black, catalysts for low-key or bright colors in contemporary or transitional decors. Dare to be bold…yet subtle…with this imaginative contribution to generous illumination!” (Rejuvenation archives)
Not to be outdone by Lightcraft, Moe Light offered the Mod series on the left – with its “Bauhaus styling” – in Canary Yellow, Burnt Orange and Moss Green. The smoked acrylic and fiber optic fantasia on the right may have launched Spencer’s Gifts. (Rejuvenation archives)
Mod wasn’t just for walls and ceilings. Some of its most fun designs were in the world of floor and table lamps, like these examples from Mutual-Sunset in 1973. (Rejuvenation archives)
While this spread from Thomas Lighting in 1974 does not shed a lot of new light on Mod lighting, we include it for the simple reason that we love Modern Sideburns Man and His Kid on the lower left. And the hovering red balloon evokes images of Rover chasing Patrick McGoohan in our favorite Mod TV series, The Prisoner. (Rejuvenation archives)
We end our brief survey of Mod lighting in 1976, right where we started – with pendants from Lightolier. These highly sought suspensions from our Bicentennial year include the Caprice, the Editor’s Light, the Vanguard, and on the right – “Polished Chrome. A ball, that’s all.” Mod poetry. (Rejuvenation archives)
Mod would evolve (or devolve, depending on your point of view) through the 1970s, until the advent of Postmodernism. Meanwhile, a parallel style was growing – Contemporary.