Nelson was inspired by a set of silk-covered Swedish hanging lamps that he wanted to acquire for his office, but he found the price to be prohibitive. An ingenious and resourceful designer, he went on to create the first set of Nelson Bubble Lamps using a translucent white plastic spray, a technique developed by the U.S. military at the time. Nelson drew from elemental, organic shapes in making variations like the Apple Bubble Pendant, the Pear Wall Sconce, the Lotus Table Lamp, and the Saucer Pendant Lamp, among others.
The first prototype of the lamp was designed in a matter of two days. Nelson created the spherical frame with perforated rings that were inserted with steel wires, a construction that retained its shape under tension, required minimum tools, and no welding costs. It was then sprayed with the resinous lacquer to form a fibrous web, and a final coat of plastic was applied, creating a smooth, translucent skin. And hence Nelson had added lighting installations to his expanding portfolio of work and introduced a beautiful, timeless lighting fixture to consumers at modest prices.
Bubbling up — With their steel infrastructures and translucent plastic-polymer shades, George Nelson’s Bubble Lamps combine ingenuity with material innovation. They also come with a side of humor, as the whimsically named Saucer Pendant — whose wide shape, flowing lines and ethereal glow references a UFO — aptly demonstrates.