I’m from New Jersey—just like the Kurt Versen floor lamp. But I didn’t hear about Versen until I moved to Los Angeles and started to read up on my California design history.
For some reason the Versen lamp was ubiquitous in West Coast modernist circles in the 1940s and 1950s. I think the reason was that all those designers, editors, and architects knew what they were talking about.
It’s my idea of the perfect lamp.
Over the past few weeks I’ve made a hobby of Versenspotting. Whenever I stumble across a Versen lamp in an old ad or architectural photo, I clip and save it. It’s like my own nerdy version of Where’s Waldo.
As evidence of the august company that the Versen floor lamp (and its sconce progeny) once kept, I present the photos above.
From top, row by row, left to right: Versen + Alvin Lustig; Versen + George Nelson & Eero Saarinen; Versen + Frank Lloyd Wright; Versen + Gregory Ain; Versen + R.M. Schindler; Versen + Knoll Associates; and Versen + Richard Neutra.
And yet, despite their midcentury ubiquity, Kurt Versen lamps are strangely obscure these days. Almost no one talks about them and they only occasionally come up for sale.