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An iconic 'Triennale' style floor lamp designed by Robert Sonneman in the 1970s. 

ROBERT SONNEMAN was born and raised in New York City by parents who manufactured “traditional lighting and normal lamps,” as he calls them.  He displayed a keen interest in art at an early age, and began to study it at the Rhodes School, took life classes at the Art Students League, and as a teenager became a student member of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum.  He started his career working for well-known lighting retailer and designer George Kovacs in the 1960s, and the two later partnered, when Sonneman was only 21, to produce an original line of lamps.

In 1967 at the age of 23, he launched his own lighting company under the Sonneman brand, selling his lighting in stores such as Bloomingdale's and Macy's. It was during this time in the late 1960s and ’70s that Sonneman created his iconic, zeitgeist-capturing works: lamps with names like Orbiter and Odyssey, featuring orblike heads and tubular arms and necks, and pendants and sconces made from glass disks that seemed to float like flying saucers.  Many of the products introduced in the 60s and 70s have become classics of the modern era. For the next four decades, his award-winning designs have remained in the forefront of the lighting field and sell as well today as they did then.  Inspired by the Bauhaus aesthetic, Sonneman was a self-taught designer who imposed strict design and quality standards upon himself and his associates. Purity of line and excellence in design became and continue to be his hallmark.

In 1974, Sonneman founded the Sonneman Design Group, developing products for leading brands, including Lightolier, Sunbeam Appliance, Singer, Stanley Furniture, Brueton, Goody Products, Lifetime Brands and others.

Sonneman has participated and lectured at Stanford University, Pratt School of Architecture, Parsons School of Design, Philadelphia College of Art and UCLA. He was also a contributor on Chrysler and Toyota projects at the Art Center, Pasadena College of Design and served on the Nissan Design Advisory Board.  After years spent freewheeling through Milan and Tokyo, forays into architectural work, and a stint as CEO for Ralph Lauren's Home Product Development Division from 1999 to 2005, Sonneman has happily spent several years back in the lighting industry. As lead designer of his own brand, SONNEMAN—A Way of Light he has focused on architecturally scalable designs, including the new Constellation and Tik-Tak collections, which operate as systems rather than singular, sculptural pieces.

Despite his Bauhaus and Modernist sensibilities, Robert Sonneman remains relatively unsung in the canon of his peers and rejects comparisons to other lighting giants, but that standing has begun to change in recent years, at least among collectors, who have taken a liking to his vintage space-age designs, which fetch anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on auction sites like 1stdibs and Chairish.

Since the late 1960s, Robert Sonneman has created some of the most innovative and functional modern lighting solutions of the 20th, and now the 21st, century. It was his eye for detail and unyielding commitment to technology that propelled the launch of his first company in 1967, and has earned him awards in product design and placement in institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, Chicago Art Institute, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, UCLA Exhibition on Design, Karnette County Art Museum and the Houston Contemporary Arts Museum.  Robert Sonneman has been in the lighting business for over five decades.


Design Period – 1965-1974

Country of Origin – UNITED STATES



Attribution – WELL-KNOWN

Materials – METAL, CHROME


Condition – VERY GOOD (no defects; may show slight traces of use)

Additional Condition Details – minor scratches/paint loss.


Height (in.) – 70.0

Diameter (in.) – 36

Quantity Available – 1
Quantity Available – 1