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Robert Sonneman

American, b. 1943

Though Robert Sonneman was quite literally born into the lighting business, it took working for another celebrated lighting maker for him to land upon the kind of boundary-pushing modernism for which the New York–based designer is known today.

At the age of 19, fresh off a stint in the U.S. Navy, Sonneman responded to an ad for a position working in the studio of George Kovacs on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where he became the sole employee. “Although my parents were in the lighting business, they came from a traditional perspective, and Kovacs introduced me to modernism,” Sonneman once said. “It was 1961, and I was immediately captured by the movement.”

While working for Kovacs, Sonneman became captivated by the work of the Bauhaus, and he began experimenting with the influential art and design school’s ideas of functional simplicity in lighting. In 1967, he opened his own studio.

Though Sonneman Design Group produced furniture for a brief time, the designer eventually elected to focus on the one category that had always fascinated him; the brand became known for its floor lamps, sconces, pendants and chandeliers that feature unconventional treatments toward shape and balance, often inspired by modern architecture. Sonneman once said of his work: “I saw the lamps that I built as lighting machines that glorified the industrial aesthetic.”

Indeed, in the spirit of Bauhaus functionality — Sonneman has also cited Mies van der Rohe as being an inspiration — the designer’s work takes function-centric forms and motifs and elevates them while prioritizing technology. This spirit of forward thinking continues today, as Sonneman’s brand, renamed SONNEMAN – A Way of Light in 2003, works with LED bulbs to continue to push the boundaries of what functional lighting can achieve aesthetically.

Current-day releases by SONNEMAN – A Way of Light (still overseen by Sonneman himself) feature 95 percent LED lights and include interior and exterior lighting as well as modular suspended lights as an alternative to track lighting. Sonneman’s vintage pieces, however, are still widely collected on the secondary market.

Find vintage Robert Sonneman lighting on 1stDibs.

Average Sold Price
$1,873
Styles
Materials
Triennale Chrome Floor Lamp by Robert Sonneman
By Robert Sonneman
Located in Philadelphia, PA
Three arm "Triennale" chrome floor lamp by Robert Sonneman. The three way switch works great. Each arm is adjustable with a tightening knob. This not often seen light shape is a clas...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Robert Sonneman

Materials

Chrome

Pair of Mid Century Modern Stainless Table Lamps Robert Sonneman for Kovacs
By Robert Sonneman, George Kovacs
Located in Port Jervis, NY
Simple yet elegant pair of chrome barrel shaped table lamps by Robert Sonneman for George Kovacs. In excellent vintage condition with minimal wear. Wiring is sound, shades included b...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Robert Sonneman

Materials

Steel, Chrome

Mid Century Modern Vintage Chrome Floor Lamp by Robert Sonneman, 1960s, USA
By Robert Sonneman
Located in Vienna, AT
Mid century modern vintage chromed floor lamp by Robert Sonneman, which shows six turnable globes. Also the vintage floor lamp has six E 14 sockets and on/off button. The vintage co...
Category

1960s American Space Age Vintage Robert Sonneman

Materials

Metal, Chrome

Mid-Century Modern Lucite with Chrome Desk Table Lamp Robert Sonneman
By Robert Sonneman
Located in Port Jervis, NY
Simple and elegant table desk lamp fully adjustable. Lamp pivots on a Lucite 7 x 7 base, tightens with the use of a chrome thumbscrew. Chrome eyeball shade does the same, totally adj...
Category

1970s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Robert Sonneman

Materials

Chrome

Adjustable Table Light by Robert Sonneman
By Robert Sonneman
Located in NYC, NY
A pair of lamps with a rectangular black base with pivoting arms ending in a lacquered black globe head with a black counter balance at the other end-well suited for as desk or bedsi...
Category

1970s American Modern Vintage Robert Sonneman

Materials

Metal

  • Adjustable Table Light by Robert Sonneman
  • Adjustable Table Light by Robert Sonneman
  • Adjustable Table Light by Robert Sonneman
  • Adjustable Table Light by Robert Sonneman
H 27 in. W 3.63 in. D 3.63 in.
Chrome Five Light Ring Fixture
By Robert Sonneman
Located in New York, NY
Circular chrome rings surround the large exposed bulbs, five lights make this chandelier capable of illuminating a large space. Bright chrome finish, fine original condition.
Category

1970s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Robert Sonneman

Materials

Chrome, Stainless Steel

  • Chrome Five Light  Ring Fixture
  • Chrome Five Light  Ring Fixture
  • Chrome Five Light  Ring Fixture
  • Chrome Five Light  Ring Fixture
H 19 in. W 31 in. D 15 in.
Robert Sonneman Pop Art Chrome Cylinder Lamps
By Robert Sonneman
Located in New York, NY
Pair of Robert Sonneman Pop Art chrome cylinder lamps have eight lights each, with maximum 25 watts per socket, up to 200w. per lamp. Lamp body without bulbs measures 3.5" diameter.
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Robert Sonneman

Materials

Chrome

Sonneman Tubular Chrome Lamp
By Robert Sonneman, Sonneman Lighting
Located in Bastrop, TX
Award winning and acclaimed for clean lines and innovative approaches, many of Sonneman's sleek, functiionalist lighting designs have become classics of the modern era. Sonneman has ...
Category

1960s American Space Age Vintage Robert Sonneman

Materials

Chrome, Iron

Browse all Furniture from Robert Sonneman
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Robert Sonneman Sellers

Robert Sonneman furniture for sale on 1stDibs

Robert Sonneman's furniture is available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive objects are frequently made of metal and designed with extraordinary care. In our collection of Robert Sonneman furniture, there are many options to choose from, although black editions of this piece are particularly popular. There are currently 132 vintage editions of these items in stock, while there is also 0 modern edition to choose from. Many of the original furniture by Robert Sonneman were created in North America during the 20th century in the Mid-Century Modern style. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Stiffel, Russel Wright and Koch & Lowy. Prices for Robert Sonneman furniture can vary depending on size, time period and other attributes. The price for these items starts at $275 and tops out at $9,500, while pieces like these can sell for $1,575 on average.

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