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Robert Dudley Best

Robert Dudley Best (1892-1984) was born into the world of interior design. As the heir to Best & Loyd, the largest lighting manufacturer on the globe, he was raised in the business of stylish illumination. Best & Loyd began in 1840 and rapidly developed an impressive list of accomplishments, including providing the lighting for The Orient Express and the Titanic. However, young Robert Dudley Best had a vision of a new design approach, one that captured the spirit of the twentieth century by reflecting the sleek, modern concepts of the avant-garde architects. He traveled throughout Europe to study the Modernist movement and learn from some of the most innovative designers of the time. The 1925 Exhibition of Modern Design in Paris solidified his resolve to develop a greater understanding of designers like Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe in an effort to develop his own artistic vision. He joined the School of Industrial Design in Düsseldorf where his talents and skills expanded exponentially.

Around this time, Best befriended Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus design movement. Bauhaus principles influenced Best to seek a new approach to lighting that would combine practical function with simple, elegant form. After returning to Bermingham in 1930 he moved away from the ornate Victorian lighting styles of the Titanic and put his new line of lamps into production. To call the Bestlite a success would be an understatement. These iconic lamps set a new standard in interior illumination, making their way into the ownership of Winston Churchill and various other influential figures. The Bestlite is still a favorite among designers and collectors, and originals are displayed in Victoria & Albert and other respected design museums