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Philips Major Desk Lamp

Materials: Brass. Dark green painted aluminium round UFO/mushroom lampshade. The lampshade is painted white inside. Dark green painted iron base. Cast iron counterweight inside the base. Felt on the bottom of the base. Brass conical rod. Bakelite socket.

Height: 64,5 cm / 25.39”

Width: ∅ 33,5 cm / 13.18”

Base: ∅ 11,5 cm /4.52”

Electricity: 1 bulb E27, 1 x 100 watt maximum, 110/220 volt.
Any type of light bulb can be used. But a big silver cup/crown/bowl bulb is preferred. There is a difference in sizes between 60 and 100 watt incandescent light bulbs. The 100 watt bulb is preferred.

Period: 1970s, 1980s – Mid-Century Modern.

Designer: After a design by Louis Christiaan Kalff.

Manufacturer: Philips, Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

Other versions: The Philips Major desk lamp was made in several colours.

Major/Timor: This lamp has two names. The first name in the early 1970s was Major. In the late 1970s it became Timor (69). This desk lamp was produced until the 1980s. It is based on a design by Louis Kalff as you can see on the left.

The difference between the two desk lamps is that the Timor is earthed, the Major is not.

In all probability this lamp was re-designed by the internal design-team of Philips. It is possible that it was approved by mister Kalff, since he has an advisory function for the company after his retirement. Louis Kalff started to work for Philips in 1925.

Koninklijke Philips N.V.

Inspired by the fast-growing electricity industry and the promising results of Gerard Philips own experiments to make reliable carbon filaments, Frederik Philips (his father) financed the purchase of a modest factory in Eindhoven, The Netherlands in 1891.  Frederik Philips was a Jewish banker based in Zaltbommel.

In 1895, after difficult first four years and near bankruptcy, Anton Philips joined the company. He was Gerard’s younger brother. With Anton’s arrival, the family business began to expand rapidly. The brothers changed their family business by founding the Philips corporation. They laid the foundations for the later electronics multinational.

In 1930 the first shaver of the Philips company was introduced and was simply called “The Philishave”.

A day before the German invasion in the Netherlands on 9 Mai 1940, the Philips family fled to the United States of America, taking a large amount of the company capital with them.

Operating from the US as the North American Philips Company, they managed to run the company throughout the war. After World War II the company was moved back to the Netherlands, with their headquarters in Eindhoven.

Louis Christiaan Kalff 

Louis Kalff (Amsterdam, 14 November 1897 – Waalre, 16 September 1976) was a pioneering industrial designer in the Netherlands during the first half of the 20th century.

With a solid background including studies in sculpture, ceramics, furniture design and architecture, he began to work for the Philips company in 1924,  department consumer electronics company marketing.

In 1929 he started a department for design of lighting products (LIBU – Lichtadviesbureau (Dutch for light consultancy). Louis Kalff was responsible for the lighting sections of the World Exhibitions in Barcelona, Antwerp and Paris.

 As freelancer he also designed posters and advertising for the Holland America Line, Calvé, Zeebad Scheveningen, Holland Radio and others. Louis Kalff also designed book covers.

After World War II Kalff kept himself active in industrial design for Philips. After his retirement in 1960, Louis Kalff stayed with Philips as a consultant and architect. In 1961 he was given the direction and execution of the Evoluon building in Eindhoven. It was the last work of the light architect who almost worked for forty years at the Philips group.

Often said that Louis Kalff designed lamps for Cosack Leuchten (Gecos) from Germany, but that is the umpteenth concoction on the internet. Some of their lamps have similarities with lamps he designed, that’s all.

Louis Kalff Timor and Major lamps before a restoration 

Philips Major Desk Lamp - Timor and Major lamps before a restoration 

Philips Major Desk Lamp - Timor and Major lamps before a restoration 

Philips Major Desk Lamp - Timor and Major lamps before a restoration 

Lamps in the movies

A Philips Major desk lamp was used as a prop in the 2008 movie L’Instinct de Mort – Public Enemy Number One (Part 1). The story of french gangster Jacques Mesrine, before he was called Public Enemy N°1.

Philips Major Desk Lamp - L'Instinct De Mort (2008) Public Enemy Number One (Part 1)

A Philips Major desk lamp was used as a prop in the 1986 Belgian comedy film Paniekzaaiers (alarmist/scaremongers). It appears with a double lampshade. Probably meant as a joke. Starring Flemish comedy duo Gaston Bergmans and Leo Martin. Below the fragment with the lamp. It appears after 1:30.

A Philips Major Desk Lamp appears in the Belgian comedy film Paniekzaaiers from 1986