Design trend: bare bulbs

Bare light bulbs are a strong interiors trend. Here are the ones that save you money.
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The newstyle Plumen 002, influenced by modern sculptors such as Henry Moore, changes its shape according to your angle of view. It is now in stock at Habitat and Heal’s, for around £20, or go to

A bare light bulb was once a major design crime, but bulbs are the focus of the latest fittings, whether simple white globes, sparkly spots, or curvy strips.

“Squirrel cage bulbs” are the latest fashion. Twisty, coiled filaments are trapped inside clear glass, and shapes include copies of vintage Edison bulbs. They give off an intensely warm, reddish glow, and the light running up and down the intricate filaments is said to have reminded people of squirrels when this type of bulb was invented, around 1900. Modern “squirrels” cost £10-£20 — more for a really big one — but last up to 3,000 hours. There’s a wide selection online. Try and 

Squirrel cage bulbs, although energy guzzlers, are classed as “decorative”, which makes them exempt from energy-saving regulations. However, a new LED energy-saving version costs £8.50 from, currently selling bulbs VAT-free.
Vintage style: this squirrel cage bulb costs £18 from or call 020 7351 2130
Show-off: Showing off its handsome squirrel cage bulb is this wire mesh pendant hand-crafted in Germany by Industville. To buy, visit or call 020 8616 9192

Lighting costs could make up about  20 per cent of your energy bill, but choosing energy-saving bulbs can be a nightmare, with so many regulations and a lot of jargon. The ban on old-style tungsten bulbs came in gradually between 2009 and last year, and will be extended to halogen bulbs by 2016. But traders can sell old stocks, and tungsten bulbs are still plentiful on the web.

John Cullen Lighting in King’s Road, SW6, has a “lamp bar” to demonstrate different bulb types. Look for lumens on the label. About 1,600 lumens equals a traditional 100 watt bulb; 800 lumens equals 60w and 450 lumens, 40w. Find a handy table at
Flex: a five-drop chandelier, shows different bulbs, from retro filaments to contemporary LEDs, which you buy separately. The flex lengths are adjustable. Now reduced to £90 at Habitat and Homebase Mini Habitat stores and

Compact fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs, come in a good range of shapes from around £4, with a strong light output and energy savings of up to 80 per cent compared with tungsten bulbs. They last up to 20,000 hours. Design buffs love the CFL Plumen for its elegant, slim lines, and a new more solid, sculptural version is just in at Heal’s and Habitat for around £20. Visit

But light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are the future, says Nick Smith of “They are long-lasting, save up to 90 per cent of energy, and are getting better all the time, with improved light output, and shapes.” Priced from around £6. 
Bright ideas from leading lights
“Layer your lighting — let wall, pendant, and floor/table lamps work separately and together,” says Diane Simpson, lighting buyer at John Lewis. Lucio Longoni, Heal’s lighting buyer, advises: “Light what you love. Use uplighters, clamp lamps and picture lights to highlight favourite art, bookshelves, chimney pieces and cornices.”

Ros Humphries, buyer for lighting at Habitat, says: “Dramatic pendants suit high London ceilings, but remember fittings in hallways are seen from above as well as below.”

Sally Storey, a top London lighting designer, and director of John Cullen Lighting, which offers expert advice and lighting seminars, says: “Look on labels for a warm white colour of around 2,700 Kelvins.”

If the bare bulb trend isn't for you, these layered, textured and fabulous print lampshapes will be sure to brighten your home:

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