Bestlite, A Bauhaus Icon Designed by Robert Dudley Best


I took some time out to visit some events and exhibitions this weekend in London, which certainly added to the creativity bank. One was a ceramic show where I found some new talent and got up-close and personal with some interesting textures/shapes, the other was the ‘Extraordinary Stories about Ordinary Things’ collection at the Design Museum that they have on permanent display until 2015. It’s a cracking selection that’s full of goodies, mostly linked to what we talk about here, so you don’t really have any excuses not to see it considering the time frame that it’s open. Some featured designs include furniture by Marcel Breuer, chairs by Eames and Jasper Morrison, also some technical drawings by both past and current designers.

One collection of products that stood out to me personally was the lighting sections, which showcased all sorts of industrial lamps and designs. After a few sneaky snaps on my phone of the different ones I decided to research one model in-particular named the ‘Bestlite’ design by Robert Dudley Best in 1930. Although this is a classic design, I didn’t realise the background behind the lamp and the inspiring story that led up to its design. So my first port of call for factual information was the makers website, which now happens to be Danish company GUBI. They’ve got a great page on their website highlighting all his different styles, professionally photographed and some beautiful lifestyle-type shots to go along with. So I pulled them across and embedded a short film from their page which gives an insight in to the making process and the overall concept, plus there’s very inspiring imagery from inside the old factory/workshop in Birmingham, UK that shows the craftsmanship element.

Interestingly, Robert Dudley Best was heir to the world’s largest lighting factory, founded in Birmingham in 1940. He felt that the lamp designs produced there were outdated and in 1925 he took a life-changing visit to the International Exhibition of Modern Design in Paris, where many of the designs exhibited were influenced by two of our favourite designers here, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe. Inspired by what he had seen, Best began his studies of industrial design in Paris and Düsseldorf, where he became close friends with Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus movement. Being inspired by everything that was happening with the Bauhaus, he took some time to create his first sketches of what would become the iconic Bestlite design.

As you can see from the photos here they’re very much classic in their shape and have a beautiful timeless look to them, which remind me of Serge Mouille’s masterpieces. I was very glad to see these in person and get a feel for what it might of been like to design such a form with the materials at hand and make it transcend time in such a monumental way, please watch on below and go across to the GUBI website to discover the lamps and Robert Dudley Best in further detail.