Robert Dudley Best was in the 1920s the dapper young heir to the world’s second biggest lighting factory. All was on course for the factory to continue making money manufacturing the same elaborate gilt lights when - in 1925 - Best visited the Exhibition of Modern Design in Paris. Breathless with wonder at the works by Corbusier and Mie Van der Rohe, he experienced what could only be described as an epiphany. Read more.
Best went from Paris to Dusseldorf where he enrolled to study Industrial Design. It was here that he became friendly with members of the Bauhaus movement, and in 1930 he designed the now iconic Bestlite .
The problem was persuading his conservative father back in Birmingham to put it into production. When finally he did, at considerable personal cost, it was an unmitigated disaster. The only units sold were to auto repair shops and The Royal Air Force – who appreciated their functionality.
And then, during WW2, Winston Churchill acquired one for his desk and, with sales quadrupling annually, Best and his Bestlite desk lamps was finally accepted as a beautiful and utile British manifestation of the Bauhaus movement. Close.
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