Mathmos Vibrance | The Second Era of Illumination | Later 1990s

Towards the later part of the 1990s, Mathmos became more intensely visual with their branding specifically created by the Mathmos Design Squadron. Below one can see the cover and back of a Mathmos catalog which shows the icon, the Astro lamp and on the back the option for people to purchase extra or spare bottles to refresh their lava lamp.

This branding was an element that ran through everything that Mathmos did.

Mathmos | 21st April 1997 Independant Press Cutting | Where Kitsch means cash.

The lava lamp and the adjective "naff" have been in circulation for roughly the same time. Rarely have the two been separated. The lava lamp was naff when kitsch was a word barely pronounced outside Germany, and irony unknown in home furnishing.

But a happy collision of naffness, kitsch, fashion and irony has kept the lava lamp in production for over 30 years, outlasting many of the seaside tat specialists which were its first stockists. Its unsophisticated appeal is apparently universal and - with some irony - particularly marked in Germany, a country whose fondness for pointless frippery has remained one of its less visible features.

More than 500,000 lamps are now made every year at a totally non-ironic brick building on an industrial estate in Poole, Dorset, and 65 per cent of them go abroad, mostly to Europe. The continental weakness for the rising globules of coloured wax has earned the company its first export award. "The Germans can't get enough," said Fiona Somerville, spokeswoman for the manufacturing company, Crestworth Trading, which now trades as the more symbolic Mathmos, after the evil bubbling force in the film Barbarella. The lamps were invented in 1963 by Edward Craven Walker, who remains a director of the company. In 1990, it was bought by two antique dealers, Cressida Granger and David Mulley, who saw the potential in an era with looser definitions of good taste. In fact, they say the lamp is no longer naff, and have added two more designs to the original sixties Astro and its seventies companion, Jet. "All the lamps nod towards the space-age dementia of the sixties, hence the names and shapes," Ms Somerville said. "They are completely kitsch and we make no pretence that they're not, but all sorts of people love them - elderly and middle-aged people who obviously remember them, down to small kids, and students are great buyers." Original lamps are sold at the company's own British shop in Drury Lane, London, and in gadget and "new age" shops. The basic principle is the inventor's original: wax in water, which heats up when a separated light bulb is lit, and rises in random blobs in the container. All over the world, the most popular colour combinations, none of which nods towards subtlety, are red wax in violet water, and green wax in blue water. Orange wax in violet water, and red wax in yellow water, are also available, but the orange is thought not quite bright enough yet to rattle the taste barriers.

An Assortment of Mathmos products can be seen below. From the Astro, to the Astrobaby to the Jet and the Glitterbaby range, there are designs for everyone. Also note that the Mathmos Astro features the older base design that sat flush with the surface. Modern versions improved airflow into the base with a raised base.

Mathmos | Mathmos Day Glow Jets.

Mathmos Day Glow Jets. An more vibrant array of Jet based lamps that feature a stunning array of colours. These lamps featured in: Orange, Yellow, Green and Pink. For competitive cost effective issues, the Jet transitioned to an all plastic design featuring a simpler construction. Below once can see closeups of the yellow and green Day Glow editions. One can also see the plastic base and cap for the (orange) Mathmos Jet design.

Mathmos | 1990s Drury Lane.

Images of Mathmos' dazzling showroom at Drury Lane in London. I just love the wonderful visual graphics of the showroom and the wonderful displays. Note the Astro Wall and the rocket shaped displays. Towards the end of the era, Mathmos moved to Old Street in London, a dazzling retail and office space.

Mathmos | Mathmos Manufacturing | Poole.

The images below from a Mathmos 1999-2000 catalog show a range of images from Mathmos' factory on Sterte Avenue. One can see the production process of the lamps, the facilities on Sterte Avenue and other lava lamp production images. Please see the images below. It is the, unique original formulation, care and the pride that goes into each Mathmos Lava Lamp that makes Mathmos lava lamps the world's best.

You are browsing, a site dedicated to the history, heritage and nostalgia of the Original Mathmos Astro Lava Lamp. Created by Anthony Voz. Thank you for visiting |