Glo-Ball lights are a classic lighting fixture that have stood the test of time. With their spherical shape and soft, diffused light, they create a warm and inviting ambiance. Here is an in-depth look at these iconic lights.
Overview of Glo-Ball Lights
Created by Italian lighting brand Flos in the 1960s, Glo-Ball lights feature a minimalist, spherical design that diffuses light in all directions. The hand-blown glass body sits on a metal base, with a knob to adjust the brightness. Inside is a halogen bulb that gives off a warm, inviting glow.
Glo-Balls come in a range of sizes, from mini 20cm models to large 30cm globes. They are available as a pendant light, table lamp, floor lamp, or wall sconce. While the design has evolved over the decades, the classic spherical shape and soft illumination have remained unchanged.
History and Origin
Designed by Italian architect and designer Paolo Rizzatto in 1969, the Glo-Ball was originally called ‘Globo di Luce’, meaning ‘globe of light’ in Italian. Produced by Flos, the light was a huge success and became synonymous with 1970s style.
Rizzatto was inspired by the futuristic themes of space exploration and scientific imagery of the time. He wanted to create a lamp that was highly functional yet sculptural. The spherical shape evenly diffuses light in all directions, eliminating glare and shadows.
Over 50 years later, Glo-Ball remains one of Flos’ most iconic and best-selling lights. It encapsulates the minimalist, modernist design ethos that defined the mid 20th century. While materials and technology have evolved, the classic form endures.
Design and Appearance
The Glo-Ball series features hand-blown opaline glass that softly diffuses the light source within. This creates a warm, inviting glow with no glare or harsh shadows. The glass sphere is balanced on a lacquered metal base, available in white, black or brushed steel.
On table lamp models, a dimmer knob allows users to adjust the brightness. The etched Flos logo near the base adds a subtle, stylish touch. For floor and pendant lights, the electrical elements are housed at the top rather than the base.
Glo-Balls come in varying sizes:
- Mini – 20cm diameter globe
- Medium – 25cm diameter
- Large – 30cm diameter
This allows the light to be scaled for different settings. The medium 25cm size is the most common. While transparent glass was originally used, today’s Glo-Ball shades are usually white opal glass that nicely diffuses the light.
Here are some key technical specifications of Glo-Ball lights:
- Materials – Opal hand-blown glass, metal base
- Light source – Halogen bulb
- Wattages available – 20W, 35W, 50W
- Light output – Warm white light; 2700K color temperature
- Voltage – 120V
- Dimmable – Yes, with compatible dimmer switch
- Energy efficiency – Halogen bulbs not as efficient as LEDs
The halogen bulb gives off a warm, inviting glow at 2700K. More efficient LED models are also now available. Dimmable versions work with most standard dimmer switches to allow adjustable brightness.
Usage in Interior Design
With its soft, spherical aesthetic, the Glo-Ball light is widely used in interior design and decor. It creates an ambient glow that provides general lighting to a room. Some key uses:
- Living Rooms – Used as a floor lamp or pendant to create inviting relaxation areas.
- Dining Rooms – Hung above dining tables as a striking centerpiece.
- Bedrooms – Table lamps provide soothing bedside lighting for reading.
- Offices – Adds mid-century flair to workspaces when used as a desk lamp.
- Foyers/Entryways – Creates welcoming illumination in entrance halls and corridors.
The light can be used on its own or grouped to make a bolder statement. The classic design matches well with various decors from industrial to bohemian. Mini versions can provide accent lighting to display cabinets and shelves.
Pros and Cons
Here are some of the key advantages and potential drawbacks of Glo-Ball lights:
- Iconic mid-century modern design
- Soft, diffuse light eliminates glare
- Warm light color is inviting
- Dimmable for ambiance control
- Variety of sizes for placement flexibility
- Easy to match with different decors
- Halogen bulbs not as energy-efficient as LEDs
- Traditional bulbs generate more heat
- Glass shade prone to fingerprints
- Large floor lamp takes up space
While LED options are now available, halogen still gives the most “authentic” glow. The glass also requires occasional cleaning to keep its lustre. Overall the pros tend to outweigh the cons for most buyers.
As a high-quality designer light fixture, Glo-Ball lamps come at a premium price point. Some typical price ranges:
- Table lamp – $200 to $600
- Floor lamp – $700 to $1200
- Pendant light – $600 to $1000
- Wall sconce – $550 to $850
Larger lamp sizes, LED bulbs, and additional accessories can increase the price. Sales and special editions also affect cost. But the Glo-Ball endures as an aspirational lighting piece for many homeowners. It’s seen as a timeless investment that will not go out of style.
Maintaining Your Glo-Ball
Glo-Balls require minimal maintenance apart from replacing bulbs as needed. Here are some tips:
- Use a feather duster or soft cloth to gently remove dust and fingerprints from the glass shade. Avoid harsh chemicals.
- Halogen bulbs last 2-3 years on average. Replace promptly when they burn out to avoid damage.
- LED bulbs will last 15-25 years but replace if light output declines.
- Clean electrical contacts on the bulb base if replacements flicker.
- Ensure the lamp is rated for the wattage of bulb being used.
- Take care not to damage the glass when cleaning or changing bulbs.
Handle the glass shade gently and the Glo-Ball lamp will provide many years of trouble-free illumination. It’s a true test of time.
Finding Authentic Glo-Ball Lights
Since this light fixture remains hugely popular, there are many imitation lamps on the market. When shopping, here are signs you have an authentic Glo-Ball:
- Flos brand stamp near the base.
- High quality, thick opal glass with perfect sphere shape.
- Weighted metal base with dimmer switch on table lamps.
- Choice of sizes from 20cm to 30cm diameter.
- Model name includes “Glo-Ball” along with size (e.g. Glo-Ball F20).
- Halogen or LED light source.
Carefully inspect product photos and descriptions when buying online. Authorized Flos dealers are the safest source for genuine fixtures. While replicas may cost less, the quality is inferior.
Glo-Ball Light Variations
While the classic round Glo-Ball remains most popular, Flos has introduced some new variations:
- Glo-Ball C1 – Cylindrical shape with internal LED illumination.
- Glo-Ball Floor Lamp – Larger size on a tall stem with base dimmer.
- Glo-Ball Cage – Enclosed in a metal wire frame, available as a pendant.
- Glo-Ball Grid – Crisscross metal grid contains smaller spheres.
Flos also occasionally releases special collections, like the gold Glo-Ball Snoopy in 2015 to celebrate Snoopy’s 65th birthday. However, most fans still prefer the original for its simplicity and elegance.
Are Glo-Balls Still Relevant Today?
While very much a product of mid-century design, the simple spherical elegance and warm, welcoming light of the Glo-Ball ensures it remains as relevant as ever today. Its soft minimalism pairs nicely with both modern and retro interiors.
Vintage Glo-Balls from the 60s and 70s are still functional and sought-after. Flos continues to release updated versions that incorporate smarter materials and technology while retaining the essence of the original.
For many designers and lighting enthusiasts, the Glo-Ball is an icon that will never fade away. The perfect sphere represents a harmonious ideal, bathing your room in inviting, shadow-free illumination. This timeless quality ensures the Glo-Ball light remains a much-loved classic.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best size Glo-Ball for a dining table pendant?
The 25cm (medium) size Glo-Ball pendant is generally recommended for dining tables. It provides the right scale of light without dominating the space.
How long do halogen bulbs last in Glo-Balls?
Halogen bulbs last 2-3 years on average. Larger wattages may need more frequent replacement. Using a dimmer and not leaving lights on unnecessarily helps extend bulb lifespan.
Where are authentic Glo-Balls manufactured?
Glo-Balls are designed by Flos in Italy and manufactured in Italy and China to Flos’ strict specifications. Authorized Flos dealers ensure you get a genuine product.
Why is the glass prone to fingerprints and how can I clean it?
The soft opal glass shows fingerprints easily. Use a feather duster or microfiber cloth to gently clean the shade. Avoid harsh chemicals that could damage the glass.
Is there a portable battery-powered version of the Glo-Ball light?
Flos makes a cordless, rechargeable Glo-Ball lamp called Glo-Ball Basic Wireless. It provides up to 12 hours of portable ambient lighting.
With its captivating spherical glass form and warm, welcoming glow, the Glo-Ball light remains a true design icon after over 50 years. While inspired by futuristic themes, its straightforward elegance resonates across eras. For designers and homeowners alike, the Glo-Ball pendant, lamp or sconce introduces a soft luminous touch to any space. With caring use, this beloved classic promises to light up interior spaces for many years to come.