Palainco Seriously light minded

Designers who mistook a hat for a lamp

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Inspiration for a new design can literally be found anywhere. Through the decades some designers’ creativity was triggered by looking at hats. Hans-Agne Jakobsson, Claus Bonderup and Torsten Thorup, to name but a few.

  • In the case of Swedish designer Hans-Agne Jakobson the inspiration couldn’t have been more straightforward. For his own company, AB Markaryd, he created a series of lamps consisting of classic bowler and top hats in lacquered aluminium with brass plated trim. There are pendants and wall lights, but nowadays they are difficult to find, especially in a decent state.

  • 03_palainco_markaryd_hans_agne_jacobsson_top_hat_pendant Design: Hans-Agne Jakobsson (source:
    04_palainco_markaryd_hans_agne_jacobsson_top_hat_pendant_marlene_dietrich_morocco Marlene Dietrich in 'Morocco' (source: Eugene Robert Richee).
  • 01_palainco_markaryd_hans_agne_jacobsson_bowler_hat_pendant Design: Hans-Agne Jakobsson (source:
    02_palainco_markaryd_hans_agne_jacobsson_bowler_hat_pendant_john_steed_patrick_macnee Patrick Macnee as John Steed.
  • Clearly, an unnamed designer at Torino Lamp Co. showed more imagination, although you do not need to take off your sunglasses to see the similarities…

  • 05_palainco_torino_lamp_policeman_table_lamp Manufacturer: Torino Lamp Co (source: Space Modern).
    06_palainco_torino_lamp_policeman_table_lamp A 'real' Sheriff hat (
  • Were Claus Bonderup and Thorsten Thorup inspired by Margaret Hamilton in her role as the Wicked Witch of the West, from The Wizard of Oz (1939), or did the lamp get its nickname later on because of the obvious resemblance?

  • 07_palainco_fog_and_morup_torsten_thorup_claus_bonderup_witch_hat_pendant Manufacturer: Fog and Mørup.
    08_palainco_fog_and_morup_torsten_thorup_claus_bonderup_witch_hat_pendant_margaret_hamilton_the_wizard_of_oz Margaret Hamilton in The Wizard of Oz (1939).
  • The costumes for The Wizard of Oz were designed by Adrian Adolph Greenberg, widely known as Adrian. Interestingly enough, he also designed the hat for Greta Garbo, for her role as a Russian spy in Ninotchka. Bent Karlby may have seen this movie, as he came up with a very similar lamp in the early 1950s for manufacturer Lyfa.

  • 09_palainco_lyfa_bent_karlby_hat_pendant_p239_catalogue_no_28_palainco_archive Manufacturier: Lyfa (from the Palainco archive).
    10_palainco_lyfa_bent_karlby_hat_pendant_p239_greta_garbo_and_melvyn_douglas_ninotchka Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas in 'Ninotchka' (1939).
  • But what about the Panama hat lamp, by Dutch designer Wim Rietveld? Originally, like all lamps produced by Gispen, this lamp was not named, but had a code instead (in this case No. 4050). Now it is widely known as the Panama hat. But why? Just look at the two pictures and you will understand that this is a good question. Wouldn’t it make more sense to rename it the Mexican hat?

  • 11_palainco_gispen_wim_rietveld_panama_hat_lamp_wall_lamp_no_4050_palainco_archive Manufacturer: Gispen.
    12_palainco_gispen_wim_rietveld_panama_hat_lamp_wall_lamp_no_4050_prince_charles Prince Charles with the Classic model.
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  • Unless otherwise stated, all material is sourced and/or generated internally. All rights reserved.

    • Text: Palainco, Koos Logger & Ingrid Stadler.
    • Image sources: Eugene Robert Richee,, Space Modern, Lyfa Catalogue no. 28 & the Palainco Archive.

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