James Harvey Crate

If one could crown a winner of “the most famous design exhibited at MoMA by an otherwise completely obscure designer,” it might very well be James Harvey Crate. His T-C-3 lamp received Third Prize in MoMA’s Low-Cost Lighting Competition of 1951 and was shown in the New Lamps exhibition at the museum between March and June of that year. Crate was a 25-year-old designer at General Motors when he beat out hundreds of other entries for one of the prizes—the only significant recognition he would receive in his career. Crate’s one-hit wonder is a design icon of the Atomic Age. As MoMA’s curators wrote at the time, “the main feature of this lamp is the hyperbolic funnel” in aluminum, which projects the light outward towards the reflector disc, and can be adjusted using the three steel legs with cork ball feet. The resulting shadows that project against any white wall capture MoMA’s stated aim of bringing modern art into one’s life.

The T-C-3 lamp was produced in extremely limited quantities by the Heifetz Company in New York. Examples are in the collection of Brooklyn Museum and Cooper Hewitt.

Table Lamp, model T-C-3, in spun aluminum, enameled metal, steel, cork.
Designed by James Harvey Crate, USA, 1950. Manufactured by Heifetz Manufacturing Co., New York.
13" L x 13.5" W x 24" H