Swayed by the Shade

Three enterprising artisans who keep the modern spirit alive with authentic replicas of mid-century lampshades
Swayed by the Shade
Swayed by the Shade
Pictured above are two lovely mid-century modern lampshades from talented artists who are actively designing authentic reproductions. Top by Meteor Lights, above by Retromod Design.

Ever score the vintage lamp of your dreams only to discover its original shade covering was beyond repair, or missing altogether?

Oftentimes, in the spirit of the moment, we'll buy the lamp base anyway, feeling optimistic that a complementary shade will soon come along.

Once we get our treasure home, the search begins—scouring the internet for a photo of what the shade may have looked like, scrolling through endless eBay and Etsy listings in hopes of finding the perfect substitute.

A one-of-a-kind lamp can bring magic to a space. There's nothing like an elegant mid-century lamp to provide the finishing touch in a living area, or a pair of fabulous 1950s-era lamps with swirling fiberglass shades to set a mood in a bedroom.

Over the past half century, as the popularity of post-World War II design has hit its stride, the market for classic vintage lighting has grown, along with the need for authentic replacement lampshades.

Rob Fine, a Bay Area dealer who fabricates MCM-style lampshades through his company, Meteor Lights, attributes the timeless quality "partly to the durable materials, rich colors, vibrant patterns, unique geometric shapes, and unpretentious whip-stitched construction."

Changes in materials and availability have fostered a comeback for the business too, with collectors, homeowners, and decorators looking to source suitable authentic-looking replacements.

Fellow dealer Henry Fancher, of Retromod Design in the Pacific Northwest, was pleasantly surprised by the positive response he received when he first put up a pair of his reproduction shades on eBay a decade ago, "and not ten minutes after I posted them they sold," he recalls, immediately motivating him to build on the retro market.

Today, vintage lamps are often sold without their original shades, leaving a critical part of the purchase up to us.

Fear not, since there are numerous innovative and talented artists around the country, like Fine and Fancher, who are actively designing reproduction lampshades, lamps, sconces, and pendants.

Perhaps the three artisans featured here are just what we've all been looking for.