Contemporary Looks at Classic Designs Can Spur New Life in Engineering

On this episode of Engineering Experience by Paragon Innovations, host Tyler Kern talked with Brewster Waddell, CEO of TH Waddell Designs, Bob Landers, VP of Engineering at TH Waddell Designs, and Mike Wilkinson, Founder and CEO of Paragon Innovations.

The group talked about an invention by Waddell’s father, Theodore. The table lamps designed by Theodore were unique and, today, go for thousands of dollars – but they didn’t come without problems.

Theodore’s career started on Wall Street in 1963, but he soon found that wasn’t the life for him. So, he got an architectural degree, moved his family to Italy while he pursued his degree and later his doctorate, and, after setting up a design firm, worked with several local designers and firms in Milan. During this time, he started working on several lamp designs.

A technical wonder at the time, his lamp features lamp rods that draw current from the cylindrical metal plate at the bottom. This illuminates the tiny bulbs in the lamp rods, which can be taken out and rearranged to fit the user’s wants.

While the lamp was unique for the time, Waddell struck a deal with Knoll International, and they decided to carry his line, which ended up in several big chain stores in the United States.

The lamps ran into a lot of problems in the retail market, mostly from shipping. The lights were breaking while shipping, and they didn’t hold up to the wear and tear from consumers.

But, his lamps were getting attention in the art world, where he exhibited at the Louvre and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

While they didn’t work out then, Brewster vowed to make his dad’s lamps popular when the time was right. Listen to learn more about the lamps, how Brewster brought them back to life and how Paragon Innovations played a part.

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