Ed Carpenter's bestselling Pigeon Light was an unexpected icon

Most Loved: in our next exclusive movie, designer Ed Carpenter reflects on how the pigeon-shaped lamp he presented at his graduation show in 2001 became a bestseller in museums and design shops around the world.

Pigeon Light by Ed Carpenter

Carpenter designed the Pigeon Light while studying at London's Royal College of Art in response to a brief to create a new souvenir for London.

Pigeon Light by Ed Carpenter

The lamp consists of an acrylic plastic shell – vacuum-formed into the shape of the ubiquitous urban bird – and a simple wooden clothes peg attached to a dowel, which enables it to be clamped onto a shelf or nail in the wall.

Pigeon Light by Ed Carpenter

"It's a very simple design," Carpenter explains in the movie, which Dezeen filmed at his studio in London.

"It was to do with how I could produce it myself in the workshop at the RCA with the tools at my disposal, so I had to think of it as a very basic and simple object."

Pigeon Light by Ed Carpenter

Carpenter produced 30 Pigeon Lights to sell at his graduation show and soon realised he had a hit on his hands.

Pigeon Light by Ed Carpenter

"As soon as the show opened, literally after an hour I had sold all 30 I'd made and had orders booked for another 30, so I kind of knew I was on to something," he explains.

"Obviously at the time I had no idea it would become somewhat of a design icon."

Pigeon Light by Ed Carpenter

The urban souvenir was put into production in the UK the following year by Thorsten Van Elten, and was soon picked up by museums and design shops around the world.

Pigeon Light by Ed Carpenter

"The Design Museum [in London] picked it up, which was fantastic," Carpenter reflects. "We had orders from Germany and France. I took it to the US and Japan. It's truly gone everywhere."

Pigeon Light by Ed Carpenter

Carpenter believes Pigeon Light was successful because it appealed to a wide range of tastes and fitted with lots of different interiors.

Pigeon Light by Ed Carpenter

"It was a fun product," he says. "It really appealed to decorative types and also to more minimal design types. I think one of its successes is that it's so diverse."

Pigeon Light by Ed Carpenter

Carpenter says his biggest satisfaction is spotting the lamp on the wall in people's homes.

"The best thing for me is when I'm walking home in London and I see one on the wall through someone's window," he reveals. "For me, that's just the best."

Pigeon Light by Ed Carpenter

Carpenter runs the studio Klauser & Carpenter together with former Royal College of Art classmate André Klauser.


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The two are also partners in local design and production company Very Good & Proper, which produces furniture designed by Carpenter, Klauser and a range of other designers.

Ed Carpenter portrait
Ed Carpenter

This video interview was filmed by Dezeen in London. All photography used in this story is also by Dezeen.

Most Loved is a collaboration between Dezeen and car brand MINI celebrating design objects that have found a special place in people's hearts. Over the coming months, we will be interviewing some of the world's leading designers about their most popular and enduring designs.

You can watch all the movies as we publish them on our special Most Loved microsite: www.dezeen.com/mostloved