What is Torchiere

Horace He

Last Updated: December 26, 2023

What is Torchiere

A torchiere is a type of floor lamp that features a tall and slender design with an inverted shade, directing light upwards towards the ceiling. The term “torchiere” originates from the French word “torchère,” which refers to a tall candelabrum or torch. This style of lamp has a long history, with its earliest versions dating back to late 17th century France, where they were initially designed to hold a single candle on a tall stand.

Over time, torchieres evolved with the advent of electricity, transitioning into electric lamps in the late 1800s. These early electric torchiere floor lamps often boasted ornate wooden or metal stands, intricately decorated with various designs. To diffuse the direct glare of the light bulb, the shades of these lamps were typically crafted from frosted, opaque, or stained glass. Today, vintage torchiere lamps in good condition are highly sought after by collectors of antique lighting fixtures.

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Modern torchiere lamps come in a wide array of designs and styles. Retro options may feature bases and stands with finishes such as antique brass, brushed gold, or steel patina, while contemporary styles may utilize materials like brushed aluminum, platinum, or stainless steel. In fact, many modern torchiere lamp stands are constructed using a durable resin that mimics the appearance of metal.

The type of bulb required for torchiere lamps can vary, with some models utilizing halogen bulbs and others using fluorescent bulbs, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendation. Lamp stands often incorporate dimmer switches or individual bulb controls, allowing for adjustable lighting levels. It is important to note that while halogen bulbs can be dimmed to desired levels, there is a fire safety concern due to the exposed hot bulb within the inverted shade. Therefore, it is crucial to keep the lamp away from flammable materials like curtains or drapes.

Torchiere lampshades can be crafted from a variety of materials, including alabaster, glass, plastic resin, metal, or acrylic. These shades can feature different styles, such as scalloped stained glass, marbled glass bowls, geometric prairie-style, or even futuristic neon light appearances. Some torchiere lamps even incorporate a simulated torch on top, reminiscent of the original torchères from France.

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