Nelson Apple Bubble pendant

Nelson’s Lightbulb Moment

During the mid-20th century, George Nelson’s designs helped seed the optimistic look and feel of postwar American life. He introduced the concept of the “family room” in Tomorrow’s House, which he co-authored with Henry Wright; he is the father of modern modular storage; and, as Herman Miller’s Director of Design from 1947 to 1972, he delivered iconic designs such as the Marshmallow Sofa, Coconut Lounge Chair, and—of course—his Bubble pendant lights, table lamps, floor lamps, and wall sconces.

Nelson’s mid-century modern light fixtures were inspired by a silk-covered Swedish hanging lamp that he coveted but found too expensive. Determined to create his own, Nelson created a lightweight steel wire frame which he then covered in a smooth, translucent white plastic spray—leaving the wire ribbing visible through the airy shade.

What Are the Characteristics of Mid-Century Modern Lighting?

One of the hallmarks of mid-century modern design is the innovative use of new materials. Designers not only experimented with new materials, but also with shape, form, and function. George Nelson’s Bubbles are a case in point. True to MCM lighting—and mid-century modern design at large—Nelson Bubble Lamps are organically shaped with sculptural curves and forms that mimic the natural world.

Nelson Bubble Pendant Lamps

George Nelson Bubbles—For Every Room

If you’re wondering, “What lighting fixtures are timeless?” A Nelson Bubble Lamp is your answer. Whether vintage or new, authentic Nelson light fixtures stand the test of time. From the living room to the dining room to the bedroom, elevate every space with Nelson lighting.

Add a warm, ambient glow to your living area with a Bubble ceiling light. Depending on the size of your dining room, hang one or more pendant ceiling lamps above your dining table. Consider using the Nelson Triple Bubble Fixture Kit to create a chandelier of three bubbles —either of the same or different shapes. Or install a series of pendant lights above a kitchen island.

Create accent lighting with sconces. Install one on either side of a bed or sofa; illuminate a hallway with multiple wall lamps; or use sconces to add ambient light—and elegant home decor—around the perimeter of a room.

The benefit of table lamps and floor lamps is that they can be easily rearranged or moved from room to room. Bubble table lamps feature a compact base, making them a space-efficient choice for brightening a bedside table, credenza, or desk. Use a floor lamp to illuminate corners; or arrange one next to a chair to provide ample reading light—either in a living room, bedroom, or home office.

Final Tips & Lighting Rules of Thumb

  • In a living room, hang a pendant 12"–20" below an eight-foot ceiling. For ceilings above eight feet, raise it three more inches for each foot.
  • In a dining room, hang a chandelier or pendant 30"–36" from the top of your table to the bottom of the fixture. Again, for ceilings above eight feet, raise it three more inches for each foot.
  • Hang sconces slightly above eye level, at approximately 60"–72".
  • Bubble lights do not come with bulbs. Use an LED, CFL, or incandescent bulb.