Design Icon: The Sputnik Chandelier
Every once in awhile, I am moved to do a little research on an object that has become a style icon, like the “Sputnik”-style chandeliers that used to just come with tract houses back in the day and now show up regularly in midcentury retro spaces and on the pages of Met Home. This one, the “Orbit” chandelier is one of its recent incarnations—and it’s only $249 at Z Gallerie.It’s not hard to see why the lamps got their name if you know what Sputnik looked like. Here it is, the first satellite to orbit the earth, a silver orb the size of a basketball trailing four long antennae.Interestingly enough, the first “Sputnik”-style lamps were produced 3 years before Sputnik made its historic journey in 1957. Back in 1954, Gino Sarfatti designed a series of four chandeliers for Lightolier, which were called Astral, Skyrocket, Sparkler, and Mobile. Here are two of them, above.
As part of the décor of the new opera house, which was designed by architect Wallace K. Harrison, a number of crystal “Sputnik”-style chandeliers were hung in the lobby and above the orchestra (these raise and lower for increased dramatic effect). Here's a night shot of the Lobmeyer chandeliers above the Met's lobby.
These stunning works of art were produced by the historic Austrian company J. & L. Lobmeyer (founded in Vienna in 1823). Fantastic in their own right even now, the dazzling starburst chandeliers not only epitomize the 1960s, they foreshadow the phenomenal work in contemporary crystal chandeliers currently spearheaded by Nadia Swarovski at her family’s firm.