PERIOD FEATURES: If I had to choose one iconic object of the 60s which says everything about that era’s romance with flower power and psychedelia, I may well designate the lava lamp. Its British inventor, a World War II veteran turned ardent nudist, came up with the idea while drunkenly transfixed by a strange gadget at a pub.
Here’s a brief history by the current manufacturers of the gloopy fascinator, Mathmos:
Mathmos is a British heritage brand founded in 1963 by the inventor of the lava lamp Edward Craven Walker. Mathmos lava lamps have been in continuous British production for over 50 years. Recognised as twentieth century design classics, Mathmos make the best quality lava lamps available. We also design, manufacture and market a range of other award winning ambient lights.
The Mathmos story begins with the invention of the Astro lava lamp by our founder Edward Craven Walker. Craven Walker was a great British inventor, entrepreneur and eccentric. Aside from inventing the lava lamp he also made underwater naturist films, owned helicopters and fire engines, was a World War Two pilot, entertained the cast of the 60s musical Hair and owned a naturist camp in Dorset.
Craven Walker originally developed the lava lamp from a design for an egg timer he saw in a Dorset pub. Taking years to develop the formula original models were made with orange squash bottles. The Astro came to market in 1963 and the Astro Baby the following year, they were an instant hit and became one of the defining products of the swinging ‘60s appearing in cult TV series ”The Prisoner” and “Dr.Who”. Craven Walker and his wife Christine ran the business very successfully throughout the 1960s and ‘70s.
The Craven Walkers wanting to retire teamed up with young entrepreneurs Cressida Granger and David Mulley in 1989. Over a period of years Granger and Mulley bought the business from the Craven-Walkers and successfully launched the lava lamp to a new generation. Part of the relaunch included changing the company name from Crestworth to Mathmos in 1992. The word Mathmos is taken from the cult 1960s film Barbarella. Millions of lava lamps were manufactured in Dorset in the 1990s and sold throughout the world gaining a host of business and marketing awards including two Queens Awards for Export.
In recent years Mathmos under Cressida Granger’s ownership has designed and manufactured a wide range of new ambient lights. Developing new lighting technologies and coming up with new award winning designs. The Mathmos design team has worked with up and coming young designers as well as established designers such as El Ultimo Grito and Ross Lovegrove.
We celebrated our 50th birthday in autumn 2013 with a range of activities during London Design Week (press links). Cressida has recently become a director of the Made in Britain Campaign and Mathmos is proud to use the Made in Britain marque on its lava lamp range.
Still based in Poole, Dorset, we are proud of our long British manufacturing history and our heritage of invention. Please contact us for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org