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Publication Date: 2015-06-26

Behind the Design

A Bright Son: Robert Long Revives His Father's 1960s Sausalito Lighting Company

Established in 1962, Robert Long Lighting, a company once known for bench-made modernist takes on classic fixtures, has been revived by the founder's son and namesake. Robert Long Jr. grew up only knowing his father via his designs—both parents and other family members were killed in a car accident when Robert was just two, and he and his brother were raised by relatives in Savannah, Georgia, in a house illuminated by Robert Long lights.


As a young adult Robert discovered his father's company catalogues in a pile of family memorabilia and "they planted a seed." When he moved to the Bay Area to go to graduate school in psychotherapy, he began showing the catalogues to architects and designers on the side. The interest was immediate: "One of the first people I talked to wanted to place an order for an entire hotel." Eventually Robert teamed up with an industrial designer in his eighties who had worked alongside his father—and Robert Long Lighting was switched on again. Headquarters are in the old shipyard in Sausalito, California, just 40 steps from the original studio, and within waving distance of another great 1960s comeback, Heath Ceramics.

The majority of Robert Long Lighting designs are exact replicas of the originals—and look entirely of the moment. Robert has been able to track down many of the artisans who made lamp parts for his father, including a family of glassblowers, and they've begun contributing to the new pieces, all of which are assembled in Sausalito.

The unlacquered brass Oliver Chandelier holds six candles (in spring-loaded holders to make replacement easy) and has eight-inch glass shades; $2,600, including 18 dripless wax candles.

The company takes orders by email and phone and offers a range of materials and finish choices for each design. For instance, the Gordon Wall Bracket, $700, is available with clear or "seedy" glass and two versions of oxidized brass.

Made of solid brass components with a cast-iron weighted base, the George Table Lamp, shown here in oil-rubbed bronzed, also comes in seven other finishes, including polished nickel and oxidized copper; $1,450.

A detail shot. Robert Long designs are made to order and generally take four to six weeks; they ship with light bulbs included.

The cast-brass and copper Evergreen Sconce, $650, is a new design that makes use of existing elements from the collection.

The Cooper Sconce has a 10-inch handblown glass globe mounted on cast brass (available in six finishes) with a copper bulb base; $775.

A contender for revival: a vintage Robert Long Bronze Chandelier from 1st Dibs.

The cast-bronze Owens Desk Lamp, $750, has two light sources: a visible bulb and a concealed down light (plus a three-way switch, so the lights can be on individually or together). The blown-glass sphere, shown here in clear, comes in a range of other options including etched and opal.

Text by by Margot Guralnick


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