Organic Design Competition

An Honorable Lamp

In 1940, the Museum of Modern Art in New York inaugurated the groundbreaking Organic Design competition to “discover good designers and engage them in the task of creating a better environment for today’s living.” The museum collaborated with several manufacturers and department stores to produce and distribute the winning designs.

Benjamin Baldwin and Harry Weese submitted designs in several categories for the Organic Design competition hosted by the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1941. The duo won in the category of Furniture for Outdoor Living and they also received honorable mention in the categories of Other Furniture for a Living Room and Furniture for a Bedroom

Installation view of the exhibition, "Organic Design in Home Furnishings" September 24, 1941–November 9, 1941. Photographic Archive. The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York. IN148.11

The present lamp design was among their submissions to the competition and is one of only three known extant examples, one of which can be found in the MoMA's collection. 

A design may be called organic when there is a harmonious organization of the parts within the whole, according to structure, material and purpose. Within this definition there can be no vain ornamentation or superfluity, but the part of beauty is none the less great—in ideal choice of material, in visual refinement, and in the rational elegance of things intended for use.

Eliot Noyes