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The Best Desk Lamps, According to Architects and Interior Designers

Photo: retailer

So you’ve got the standing desk and the ergonomic office chair all set up in your new work-from-home station, plus an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse for your laptop to help you maintain proper posture. Beyond those essentials, you may also want to consider adding a desk lamp to your home-office setup: Not only will it provide a bit more lighting than the blue-light glow emitted by your computer screen, a lamp can add an element of (functional) design to your work space, making even the most cobbled-together desks look a bit more put together. To find the best, most stylish desk lamps — from tried-and-true classic task lamps to contemporary light sculptures — we consulted a group of interesting people with good eyes for these kinds of things, including architects, interior designers, and other folks who value form as much as function. Read on for their picks, which come at a range of prices and include a desk lamp for just about everyone.

Best under-$100 desk lamps

If you’re looking for something simple that gets the job done, many of the people we spoke with directed us to objectively affordable lamps that don’t look cheap — like this iron one, which Shannon Retseck, the founder of textile and home-goods line Cuttalossa, told us about. The lamp has an angled arm and a swiveling, flared shade, giving it a “no-fuss design,” according to Retseck, who adds that its “fun hue brings a pop of color to the office, which can often be a sterile space.” In addition to the mustard yellow shown, this lamp is also available in black, mint green, and white.

Even less expensive is this desk lamp from Ikea, which architect Páll Hjaltason, the owner and founder of Plús Arkitektar, recommends for its practicality and affordability. “I bought a lot of them for my growing studio, so they’re everywhere,” he says. Made of nickel-plated steel coated in acrylic, the lamp’s head has an LED light, and its adjustable arm allows you to direct the glow as you please. Hjaltason likes that the design is “generic” and that the lamp sits on the desk as opposed to being fastened to it, the way some other lamps on this list (like the one below) require. The low price, he adds, means “I can always buy more of them” should he need a replacement. Shown in nickel, the lamp is also available in black, dark green, and dark red.

Woods Clamp Lamp
$14

While not a proper desk lamp, this just as versatile (and even cheaper) clamp lamp is what architect Peter Dumbadze uses at his own desk. “I’ve used these lamps for years, as I can buy them at my local hardware store, Mazzone Hardware in Carroll Gardens.” What he likes about a clamp lamp is its “utilitarian style,” which he says works not only with his industrial shelving but also his desk (an Eames Aluminum Group conference table): “I position the lamps such that I can bounce light off of the walls and ceiling, helping to provide even lighting.” At $13, it’s affordable enough that you can buy more than one and place them anywhere you might need an extra light source.

Photo-Illustration: Retailer

This mini-lamp that Chris Black recommends is just as easy to place wherever you may need it: Its base attaches to any smooth surface (like a desk or even a wall mirror) by way of an integrated suction cup. Designed by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni and first introduced back in 1962, it’s “timeless, practical, and chic,” according to Chris.

Mark Warren, a co-founder and designer for ceramics company Haand, recommends this LED work light from Wisamic, calling it “powerful and cheap.” It requires a bit more elbow grease to install — you have to mount it to a surface with the provided hardware and connect the plug yourself (it comes with wires for connection) — but once built, the lamp should last you forever, according to Warren, who notes that it’s “waterproof and explosionproof.”

Best under-$200 desk lamps

For something more traditional with a touch of flair, consider this banker-style desk lamp that Retseck recommends. The green shade and brass arm recall the typical color scheme of banker’s lamps, giving it a “nostalgic vibe,” she says. But the cutout, circular base lends it a modern touch that keeps it from looking too classic.

From $100

This slim LED desk lamp has been a constant table-side companion for Noroof Architects partner Scott Oliver. “I bought a version of this halogen model 30-plus years ago — and lo and behold, it is still around,” he says. While he originally bought it as a bedside lamp, “it became my go-to lamp as it left the bedside, and became my drawing lamp when I was in grad school doing design competitions.” The lamp, which has a tilting head and a touch-dimmer switch to help control its light, comes in silver and white as well as black.

Hay Marselis Table Lamp
$123

Decorator Carrie Carrollo loves this lamp from Hay. “Because my work spaces have always been multifunctional, I prefer lamps that don’t look like an obvious desk lamp,” she told us. Its simple design features a slender arm made from powder-coated die-cast aluminum and steel. The light rotates 360 degrees and can be set to emit both ambient and direct light. According to Carrollo, the “sleek lamp provides enough light without compromising good design aesthetics.” What’s more: It’s currently on sale for 15 percent off.

Photo: retailer

Another atypical-looking desk lamp is this sculptural 3-D–printed lamp from Wooj, an industrial- and furniture-design studio based in Brooklyn. It comes recommended by Phantila Phataraprasit, a co-founder of Sabai, a new direct-to-consumer sofa company. “The design has a great ethereal vibe that really lights up a space, giving it a dreamy, airy feel,” she says. The lamp is made of heat-resistant, corn-based plastic and sits atop a three-legged base that comes in colors such as black, terra-cotta, and green.

[Editor’s Note: This 3-D-printed lamp is currently out-of-stock in all colors.]