Philips Tobrouk Table Lamp
Materials: Tubular white opal glass base with a globe on top. Brass rod, Bakelite E27 socket.
Height: 27 cm / 10.62”
Width: ∅ 17,5 cm / 6.88”
Base: ∅ 10,5 cm – 4.13”
Electricity: 1 bulb E27, 1 x 60 watt maximum, 110/220 volt.
Any type of light bulb can be used, but preferably a small white or frosted one.
Period: 1960s, 1970s, 1980s – Mid-Century Modern.
Designer: Jean-Paul Emonds-Alt.
Manufacturer: Philips, Turnhout, Leuven, Belgium.
Other versions: This Philips Tobrouk table lamp exists in several colours and 2 sizes (38 cm / 14.96”). It was also made with a fluorescent light bulb, the Tobrouk – PL with an 11 watt bulb, as you can see below. The Tobrouk – PL is a version made in the late 70s, early 80s.
This first edition of this Philips Tobrouk table lamp, the small size with 1 light point, has a switch with 3 positions and a special fitting like the one of the President desk lamp. The incandescent bulb used had 3 filaments, one of 40, 60 & 100 watt, as you can read on the label, below. These light bulbs are no longer in production, unfortunately.
At least the PL-version was also sold by the German Zumtobel company.
Jean-Paul Emonds-Alt was a Belgian designer, sculptor, and painter born in Etterbeek near Brussels in 1928. He passed away on 13 August 2014 at the age of 86. Emonds-Alt studied sculpture at the National School of Architecture and Decorative Arts (Ter Kameren – La Cambre) in Brussels, in the studio of Oscar Jespers, of which he later became assistant.
From 1964 onward he devoted himself mainly to design, focusing on the shape of industrial products such as this table lamp he designed for Philips. He has been repeatedly honoured for his work.
Emonds-Alt also designed the logo for the Brussels Metro in 1976.
Tobrouk (Tobruk) is a port city on Libya‘s eastern Mediterranean coast, near the border of Egypt. A strategic place were famous battles between the Nazi’s and the Allies took place. A movie was made about it in 1967, starring Rock Hudson and George Peppard. Maybe the name of this table lamp is based on this well known film.
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 May 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.
Tobrouk – Tahiti
On the left below a label spotted on a lamp in Germany. It is this exact lamp in orange. So in Germany it was named Tahiti.
On the right the label of the PL version of the Philips Tobrouk table lamp.
The Tahiti lamp is the German name of the Tobrouk lamp. In all probability they changed the name because Tobruk is a city in Libya were during World War II several battles were fought. Tobruk is also a type of bunker.
And to make the confusion complete. Another table lamp is always named Tahiti, a similar lamp also completely made of glass. But it is not a Philips lamp. It is a lamp made by Massive from Belgium. The lamp has got no name. Sometimes you find it with a Massive label, never with a Philips label. It is a design by Herwig and Frank Sterckx. You can find the so called Tahiti over here.