Find Your Light With the 10 Best Desk Lamps
Flip the switch on a better workspace.
Published Jun 17, 2020 12:00 AM
Whether you have a dedicated home office or a small desk nook in a corner of your studio apartment, it’s more important than ever to make your work-from-home space both functional and inspiring. Our philosophy is that if your desk is beautiful, the work you create will be too (even if that just means a slightly more elegant spreadsheet).
One of the fastest, simplest ways to make your workspace more usable and stylish is by upgrading your desk lamp. Proper task lighting gives you the ability to work whenever inspiration strikes, and will be a statement piece style-wise. But if the idea of online shopping for your office makes you yawn, we’ve got you. Read on for the 10 best desk lamps across a spectrum of styles and price points. With these pieces, you won’t need to burn the candle at both ends—or be left in the dark.
- Best value: Pillowfort Desk Lamp
- Best modern: Hay Marselis Table Lamp
- Best industrial: Anglepoise Type 75 Lamp
- Best splurge: Entler 12-Inch Table Lamp
- Best dome: Rivet Dome-Shaped Table Lamp
- Best dimmable: Menu JWDA Lamp
- Best adjustable: TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp
- Best high-tech: Globe Electric Tech Series Balance Arm Desk Lamp
- Best portable: Flos Bellhop Table Lamp
- Best kid-friendly: IKEA Fubbla LED Work Lamp
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
Brightness and wattage: When it comes to lighting, you really just need to know the difference between watts and lumens. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter the light. The higher the wattage, the more power the bulb uses. Look for energy-efficient LEDs or CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs, which use low wattage while giving off high lumens, ideal for a well-lit desktop area.
Design: Trends may come and go, but when choosing a light, “it’s important to have a beautiful object you’ll like for many years and one that can serve multiple needs,” says Line Borella of Danish design studio HAY. Don’t just picture how this lamp will look on your current desk; also envision how it will grow with you and fit into your next space. And make sure the lamp of your dreams also functions the way you need it to. A simple way to assess your needs is to consider the two main parts of a lamp: the body and the shade. A stationary body can look more elegant, while an adjustable body provides more range and flexibility. If the shade is opaque, it will provide focused, downward light to a consistent area, while a translucent shade (either fabric or frosted glass) will cast diffused light in all directions.
Smart compatibility: It turns out you don’t have to be a tech wiz or an electrician to outfit your home with smart lighting; just add a smart plug or smart bulb. Connect your light to a smart plug (which fits in any standard outlet) and you can control your lamp from your smartphone with an app like Apple HomeKit or via another connected device like Amazon Alexa or Google Home. You’ll be able to turn lights on and off no matter what room you’re in or even put your lights on a timer when you’re not around. Want to have some fun and be able to change the color of your light? Pick up a smart bulb and you’ll have a rainbow of hues to choose from based on the time of day and the mood you’re in.
Our Top Picks
Best Value: Pillowfort Desk Lamp
The charming shape of this budget-friendly light reminds us of a tulip, and at $15, it’ll spruce up your desk for the price of a bouquet (and last a lot longer, too). The petite domed shade is moveable and ready for any nook, and you can tap to turn on or off thanks to a touch-activated surface. Leave it to Target to deliver on-trend style and quality materials for less than $20—and in a slew of pleasingly muted colors, too.
Best Modern: Hay Marselis Table Lamp
Our pick for best modern lamp balances a form we haven’t seen before with function we didn’t know we needed. With a strikingly minimal silhouette made of aluminum and steel, this Danish design stands out without being over the top. But it’s not just good looking: The light also features an innovative circular LED disk that can swivel and adjust to three different levels of light—from ambient to direct—so it’s ready for endless multitasking.
Best Industrial: Anglepoise Type 75 Lamp
With its iconic shape and flawless functionality, the Anglepoise has set the standard for task lamps since it was designed in 1935 (a legacy that inspired Pixar to feature the light in its logo). The articulating arm is engineered to move fluidly at the slightest touch, so you’ll have no issue illuminating the task at hand. The solidly weighted base and aluminum shade are available in classic silver, black, and white as well as playful multi-color options.
Best Splurge: Entler 12-Inch Table Lamp
After seeing it pop up again and again in the homes of our favorite creatives and tastemakers, we’re calling it now: The Entler Table Lamp is a modern-day icon. These wonderfully weird ceramic lights are made to order in fifteen gorgeous glazes with solid brass accents by a small team in Los Angeles. Deciding whether to splurge? Think of each one as a work of art that also happens to include a light bulb.
Best Dome: Rivet Dome-Shaped Table Lamp
A sleek yet affordable riff on a classic midcentury style, this domed design stands tall on an elegant base and conceals two bulbs, making it ideal for workspaces that require extra wattage. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy the throwback satisfaction of tugging a retro pull chain each time you sit down to work?
Best Dimmable: Menu JWDA Lamp
Another modern classic, the bestselling JWDA Lamp by Menu effortlessly elevates any space. The egg-like opal glass shade rests on a sturdy base (in your pick of metal, marble, or concrete) for a balanced, sculptural silhouette. And the tactile metal knob is both a switch and dimmer, allowing you to set the mood with just a twist. As Borella of HAY puts it, the JWDA is “at once modern and timeless, combining a celebration of raw materials with tech-infused functionality.”
Best Adjustable: TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp
With over 35,000 positive reviews (making it Amazon’s pick for best desk lamp), this light has proven its versatility beyond the shadow of a doubt. Not only does the minimalist frame bend and rotate in all directions, the LED bulb has seven brightness settings across five color modes for any lighting need you can think of. Plus, the base has a handy USB charging port built right in.
Best High-Tech: Globe Electric Tech Series Balance Arm Desk Lamp
When you’re juggling multiple devices at once, it’s easy for your desk to get overrun by criss-crossing wires and cords. This handsome, highly adjustable design puts an end to the madness with the ingenious addition of a wireless charging base for your phone or tablet. Just turn on the light, set your phone down, and get to work.
Best Portable: Flos Bellhop Table Lamp
The Bellhop’s miniature stature will make you want to pick it up, and the good news is that you can (which is good if the dining room table is your ‘office’). Designed by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby for the London Design Museum, this portable light was meant to “evoke the spirit of a modern-day candle” by casting soft, direct light wherever it goes. Charge it via USB-C and it’ll light up for 24 hours (a pretty good improvement on candlelight).
Best Kid-Friendly: IKEA Fubbla LED Work Lamp
Every young crafter needs their own light for before-bed doodling or reading. And IKEA has designed the perfect solution for tiny desks everywhere with a lamp that’s affordable, adorable (check out the mint cord), and kid-safe with no sharp edges, small parts, or hot surfaces.
Pro Tips for Styling a New Desk Lamp
- Accessorize with art: A poster or painting hung above your desk will help balance the height of your lamp and provide a nonscreen visual for your eyes to rest on.
- Mix and match: Consider the material or color of your lamp and make sure there’s at least one other item on your desk that mirrors it, like an aluminum light paired with a metal pencil cup.
- Know your angles: Place your lamp opposite your writing hand so you won’t cast a shadow across your work.
How We Vetted These Products
Every product in a Domino guide meets these criteria:
- They blend form and function. We believe the best-designed products reflect your personal style and are a joy to use.
- They’re expert approved. In addition to our team of editors, we tap a range of designers, makers, renovators, and all-around knowledgeable people to share their intel.
- They’re endorsed by people who actually own them. We pay close attention to real reviews from both our creative community and third-party websites to know that they pass the test IRL.
The products in this story are independently selected by (obsessive) editors. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.