Never underestimate the influence of a small lamp. Sometimes, that’s all you need to transform a space in seconds — and with no mess.
The secret to successful lighting design is to follow a straightforward formula. Timeless essential aesthetic + Functional features for everyday life.
The Cestita lamp designed by Miguel Milá follows this principle. A true Spanish mid-century modern classic you can own today. Let’s discover what makes it special.
Miguel Milá: A pioneering Spanish designer
Miguel Milá is a living legend. He is an interior designer and a pioneer of Spanish industrial design. His creations, from the 50s right up to the present, are now considered timeless classics. The range of products varies from fireplaces to bathroom taps. But there’s no doubt his lamps have become the most iconic pieces.
Milá comes from an aristocratic family with strong ties with the arts. Here is a curious fact about him you may like; his uncle commissioned no other than Gaudí to build a house. Decades later, it became one of Barcelona’s modernist landmarks. The Casa Milá (aka La Pedrera). I’ve walked past that house thousands of times and it never ceases to amaze me.
STYLE TIP: Brighten up a gloomy corner with a strategically placed table or floor lamp. Choose a diffuser shade and a dim bulb to avoid harsh shadows. This will make the space feel bigger and airy.
He considers himself a pre-industrial designer. Let’s remember that back in the 50s in Spain there was no such thing as industrial or product design. It was a time of crisis where everything was handmade. Milá used his skilled artisan craftsmanship and combined it with innovative design. The result? Pieces that will never get old.
And talking about innovation. He insists you shouldn’t seek it per se. If you design with a purpose the best possible way you can, you’ll be innovating. There’s a fascinating documentary about him by Poldo Pomés (below). Even if you don’t speak Spanish, skim through the video and you can see how he presents his work.
The Cestita lamp: pure design to brighten dark spaces
Cestita means little basket. And it’s the little sister of the Cesta lamp, both designed in 1962. Milá said he spotted a lantern-shaped glass in a market one day and bought it. Inspired by this object he designed the Cesta lamp. First using rattan and later with softwood. And the Cesta family was born.
A simple concept with Mediterranean influences
There’s something mystical about the Cestita lamp. It doesn’t look like a lamp at first glance, but then it becomes apparent. Milá said lightning is one of the most important aspects of interior design. And that is because it’s only used a few hours every day. So the rest of the time it has to add something to the overall room design.
But, is it a table lamp?
Yes and no. You can place it on a table, but it looks stunning on the floor or on a shelf. The lightweight frame has a handle that allows for easy rearranging as needed. I have mine on a sideboard to brighten up a dark corner of my house. It generates a soft diffused light — perfect for ambient lighting.
Beautifully handmade with durable materials
If you skip to minute 26:45 in the video, you can see part of the manufacturing process of the lamp. The structure is made of Sumatran pine wood. With minimal treatment to preserve its natural colour. For the lampshade, they use white translucent glass or polythene. I have the plastic shade which is more pet and Juan-friendly.
The black cable is also an integral part of the design. Milá didn’t disguise it. Instead, he centred and exposed it in the bottom part of the shade. Other lamps designed by him, like the TMM and TMC, feature a hanging cable that turns the lamp on/off when pulled. Avoiding unnecessary switches and maintaining the design clean.
Meet the Cesta lamp family
Milá introduced different materials whilst respecting the essence of the original design. This is how the Cesta Metálica and Cestita Metálica were created. Both use stainless steel instead of softwood. And the Cesta Metálica has an optional leather handle. To make the design 100% portable, he removed the need for a cable in the Cestita Batería.
Regardless of the model you choose, make sure you use a bulb with low wattage. Try with the recommended LED 6W bulb for a gentle glow. Or LED 10W for the bigger models. Also, remember that this is a handmade product from Spain. Therefore, you will need an EU-to-UK socket adaptor.
Get the Cestita lamp
It’s time to own a piece of Spanish mid-century modern design. Santa & Cole manufactures and distributes the lamps. There’s a list of all the UK shops and retailers where you can get the Cestita. I bought mine from Momentum in Cardiff. It’s also available online via Skandium and Twentytwentyone.
I have talked about my architect uncle from Barcelona before. The same uncle who gifted me the Timor perpetual calendar by Enzo Mari. Well, he doesn’t own the Cestita lamp. Shock. However, every single floor lamp in his apartment was designed by Miguel Milá. That’s lighting goals.
What’s your favourite Milá lamp?
Is it the Cestita? Check his other lighting creations and pick your winner. I must say the TMM floor lamp is on my wish list. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
By the way, if you want to see a rattan chair being thrown out of a window check minute 13:50 in the video. I told you — a living legend!Want more? Don't miss the subscriber-only articles in the newsletter Join the mailing list