Dezeen Magazine

The Enlightened 50s lighting exhibition illuminates London's Galerie Kreo

Modernist lamps by mid-century French designers including Pierre Guariche and Jean-Boris Lacroix are on show at Galerie Kreo in London's Mayfair.

The Enlightened 50s: Iconic French Lighting from a Modern Decade displays a range of lamps designed during the post-war period.

The Enlightened 50s: Iconic French Lighting from a Modern Decade at Galerie Kreo
The Galerie Kreo exhibition includes Modernist lamps by Jacques Biny and Robert Mathieu. Photography by Deniz Guzel

"The 1950s marked a jubilant period of reconstruction and renovation in war-torn France," said the gallery, which was set up by French curators Clémence and Didier Krzentowski.

"Innovation in lighting during this decade emerged as a reaction against the darkness of the previous years."

The Enlightened 50s: Iconic French Lighting from a Modern Decade at Galerie Kreo
Floor, wall and table lights by Jacques Biny are on show in the London gallery space. Photography by Deniz Guzel

The movement in lighting design was signified by the use of more organic shapes, articulated arms and pivots, and the introduction of colour.

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Robert Mathieu's 1954 floor light has three small coloured shades in red, yellow and green. Photography by Deniz Guzel

A group of young designers were responsible for this shift. They included Pierre Guariche, Michel Mortier, Joseph-André Motte, Jean-Boris Lacroix and Jacques Biny.

Pairing the with new materials like aluminium and steel, the group worked with manufacturers such as Pierre Disderot, Luminalite and Robert Mathieu to reach a wider market.

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A single Jacques Biny wall light is hung above a pair of his 193 lamps. Photography by Deniz Guzel

"The austerity and formalism of the pre-war time was replaced by a more organic design, fit for everyday use," the gallery said.

"It is this very modernity that Galerie Kreo wants to celebrate with this exhibition dedicated to mid-century lighting designers: a modernity that is still inspiring and relevant today."

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Pierre Guariche's 1951 G1 wall and floor lamps feature black-lacquered aluminium stems and shades. Photography by Deniz Guzel

Examples of the designs on show at the gallery – many no longer produced – include several pieces by Guariche.

His 1951 G1 wall and floor lamps feature black-lacquered aluminium stems and shades, with adjustable brass arms and counterweights.

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Guariche's G1 lamps also feature adjustable brass arms and counterweights. Photography by Fabrice Gousset

Two bulbs fitted into the double-headed shade of each design shine in opposite directions to illuminate both ceiling and floor.

Lacroix's work is demonstrated by a 1953 floor lamp with a bright red stand. An uplighter projects onto a dish-shaped shade that incorporates a circular lens, all supported by a slender white stem.

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Jean-Boris Lacroix's 1953 floor lamp features a bright red stand, a dish-shaped lamp and a small uplighter. Photography by Fabrice Gousset

The rare design was only produced by Robert Caillat for the three years before his death.

Mathieu both designed and produced his lighting designs, which include a 1954 six-armed ceiling lamp. Three black branches support small coloured shades in red, yellow and green that face downward. The other three hold up larger white asymmetric cones that point toward the ceiling.

Robert Mathieu's 1954 six-armed ceiling lamp
Robert Mathieu's six-armed ceiling lamp was created in 1954. Photography by Deniz Guzel

Perforated metal sconces, curved wall-mounted lights and a pair of lamps that look like they are wearing wide-brimmed hats – all by a range of designers – also feature as part of the display.

The Enlightened 50s runs from 29 January to 24 March 2016 at Galerie Kreo, 14A Hay Hill, London.

The Enlightened 50s: Iconic French Lighting from a Modern Decade at Galerie Kreo
Didier Krzentowski opened the London branch of Galerie Kreo in 2014. Photography by Deniz Guzel

The Krzentowskis opened the UK branch in 2014 following the success of his initial outpost in Paris, started in 1999 and relocated to Saint-Germain des Prés in 2008.

The inaugural London exhibition included furniture editions by the Bouroullec brothers, Jasper Morrison, Konstantin Grcic, Jaime Hayón and more.

All images courtesy of Gallery Kreo.