Design Icon: Revisiting The Sticky Lamp, A Light That Sticks To Anything

Designer Chris Kabel’s Sticky Lamp can be stuck to any wall, ceiling, or just about any other convenient surface.

Sometimes the proverbial light bulb just flicks on, and an idea strikes you with immediate force. Other times, you have to throw all your thoughts at the wall and see what sticks. Rotterdam-based designer Chris Kabel combined both approaches to create his signature Sticky lamp, a light that can be fixed onto just about any surface.


Developed as his graduation project, Kabel’s Sticky Lamp has taken on a classic status. Or “kind of,” Kabel tells Co.Design. The lamp, which is produced by Droog, jumpstarted the designer’s career and studio. And it’s not hard to see why.

The lamp features a peel-off adhesive back that fastens to a wall to become an instant sconce. It’s encased in special plastic (PET) that’s molded to fit the bulb like a glove. The casing, which is used for food packaging Kabel points out, doesn’t burn when a low-wattage, energy-efficient bulb is used. When he was first prototyping his design–all the way back in 2001–Kabel reminisces how he had to patronize a specialty store to find those types of lights. “Now these [bulbs] are sold at the supermarket, and for much lower prices.”

The design’s a one-liner, for sure, but one that’s proved surprisingly durable. Kabel says the project came together fairly quickly, once he had hit on the initial idea. He was working at a San Francisco-based design office when, one afternoon, he came across a car whose tail lights had been “rather clumsily repaired with two colors of tape.” He snapped a photo of the makeshift fix; some time later, he was at a friend’s apartment, who had taped light bulbs to his wall.

Kabel recounts: “These two incidents together blended into the idea for a lamp(shade) that you could stick on the wall. A quick and impulsive act to solve an immediate problem.”

The Sticky Lamp was put into production in 2002, and has remained a fixture (yes, yes) of Kabel’s portfolio since. He says the lamp is still popular because it’s simply unlike any other: “The fact that there are no other lamps that work in the same fashion helps a lot,” he reasons about the design’s longevity. He says he’ll come across sticky lamps in very different places, but that it’s best to see the lamp in certain places “where it really feels at home–like next to people’s beds, as a night light.”

Buy Sticky for $39 (free shipping) here.


About the author

Sammy is a writer, designer, and ice cream maker based in New York. He once lived in China before being an editor at Architizer.