As the nights start to draw in, it’s time to start thinking about lighting. Interior designer
Jamie Hempsall gives his advice on desk lamps.

The autumn school term has started and, for many, the next few months will hold dark evenings hunched over desks doing homework. One of the most important factors to help ensure that this time is spent wisely – and healthily – is to invest in a proper desk lamp; these days sometimes referred to as a task lamp.

Good lighting is essential to good study as it can help people feel more motivated, less lethargic and minimise the chances of distraction. It is also essential to ensure that the student can read easily in clear light to avoid eye-strain and reduce the risk of headaches.

Nordlux Amber LED white table lamp, £132,

So what should you be looking for in a good desk lamp? The most important feature is that they provide a high level of light that can be concentrated exactly where the user needs it.

Ideally your study lamp should be as flexible as possible, allowing the user to position both the main body of the lamp and the angle of the shade. This will allow the light to be practically focused. To ensure that this does not result in an unbalanced lamp, which easily tips over, check to make sure that the base is sufficiently heavy to stay upright with the lamp at full stretch.

Tesco Alfie desk lamp in white, £29.92,

Alternatively, choose a lamp that will be securely fixed (either with a desk edge clamp fitting or a wall fitting).   These style of fittings are particularly useful where you only have a small amount of desk space available and want to ensure that the base of the lamp does not occupy too much of this.

Pimlico table lamp, £94.99,

The height of the lamp in relation to the sitter is also vital. Always ensure that the light cast by the lamp starts below your student’s head. This may also require a bit of adjustment of study position for those who like to work with their heads close to the page, but is imperative to avoid working in shadow.

The strength of the bulb that you will be able to use is a careful consideration. No one should be struggling to read by a 25w candle bulb. Review the wattage guide on the light fitting to ensure that you can put in a relatively high power bulb. The level of light that people work with is a personal preference, but it is always better to opt high initially and then adjust down if necessary.   Do pay attention to the maximum wattage allowances of your light to ensure you are not creating a potential fire or burn hazard.

Waterquest desk lamps, £35,

Once the practical boxes are ticked, why not indulge in a little bit of colour therapy and opt for a brightly shaded lamp to cheer up the desk top in the Autumn gloom.


For some people, there are advantages of opting for “daylight” simulation bulbs, rather than ordinary light bulbs. Standard incandescent electric light actually has a slight yellow tint to it, which can distort colour perception.

Daylight bulbs provide a far “whiter” light than ordinary bulbs so you can see colours much more clearly. This is a major benefit for anyone who needs to see true colours, such as artists or interior designers.

In addition, some people find the whiter light is far more relaxing to work by and that it can help reduce eye-strain. Daylight bulbs are available from most electrical retailers.

Anglepoise Type75 Mini in powder blue

Jamie Hempsall, BIID, is a multi-award winning interior designer.