The best desk lamps are the dedicated home office assistants you’ve been praying for, allowing you to burn the midnight oil sustainably, illuminate (and admire!) your handiwork, and maybe even serve as much-needed mood-lifters in your darkest hours. Ideally, they’re flexible—re-posturing themselves to allow you to work harder and smarter—iron-clad in disposition and makeup, and come with a warranty in case they burn out before their tenure is over.
For this assembly of the best desk lamps to anchor your workspace, we called in some of our favorites from GQ Home Awards past, along with a few we’ve had the pleasure of owning and testing independently. Others are ones that have made a name for themselves as superlative desk adornments or designs we’re simply coveting once the next direct deposit hits.
The Best Desk Lamp Overall: Anglepoise Type 75
The Pixar lamp has essentially become the prototype for a superior desk lamp: Angular, adjustable, and shaded so you can train your light on those barely legible notes or that manuscript you’ve been whiling away the hours on. Designed by Fritz Haller and Paul Schaerer—the dream team behind USM Haller’s coveted shelving units—Anglepoise’s Type 75 lamp takes the Pixar model and juices it up in a range of shades, from splashy Mondrian primary colors to sensible, non-distracting neutrals. It’s one that’s earned a steady following among designheads for their own desk areas, and at less than $300 is a not-too-heady investment for someone who wants to look the part of a creative or senior office drone. Add to that a lifetime warranty, and you’ve got a guaranteed desk assistant for the long haul (with room for free tuneups down the line).
The Best High-Tech Desk Lamp: Dyson Lightcycle
Dyson recently widened its circle of consumer wizardry to include desk lights, like the Solarcycle we anointed with a Home Award this year. As with any Dyson device, it’s a certified overachiever if you have the budget to spring for one—allowing you to dial up the color temperature if your light situation’s rivaling a morgue, or level up the brightness after sundown. This little guy hardly ever takes a break, either (sound familiar?), self-regulating every minute to ensure that you’re never getting too much or too little light for the time of day. The light is also designed to reduce eye strain (aw) and adapts to your given age and task via the Dyson Link app. Best of all, it charges up with a USB-C cable, so you can connect it directly to your Macbook and grind into the night.
The Best Mini Desk Lamp: Anglepoise USB 90 Mini
For smaller desk setups that need a tiny lamp to match, Anglepoise’s lamps even come in mini mini versions. This one boasts a slightly tapered shade compared to the 75, but it also has the benefit of not needing to clutter a crowded outlet. It plugs directly into your computer with a USB whenever you need to power it up.
The Best Clamp-On Desk Lamp: Luxo Task Light
For college students and office nerds who are lacking in actual desk real estate, there’s also Luxo’s corded task light, which can clamp onto any desk divider or monitor—or even perch on the edge of a desk—to shine a light wherever it’s needed. This makes it extra agile and not limited to solid surfaces, and when combined with its spring-loaded, powder-coated appendage, can tilt your light any which way. Beyond the accessories, the shade itself is made of a sturdy-as-hell aluminum so that if gravity causes the whole thing to tumble down, it’ll be ready to straddle your workspace again without any lasting damage to its exterior.
The Best Statement Desk Lamp: Yowie Tiny Table Light
Gantri’s 3D-printed lamps are just about as futuristic as lighting gets, with a host of rotating designers under its mantle that each produce their own models. This tiny table light—combining a groovy floral stem with a trendy mushroom topper—was designed in collaboration with Philly’s Yowie home goods store and stole our hearts in this year’s Home Awards. As with lots of Gantri lamps, the lighting is dimmable but soft-focus, and not super bright—so it’s more for ambiance than something highly functional we’d recommend buying to illuminate a very dimly-lit room. Still, it’s cheery to stare at while you contemplate the grim urgency of that e-mail you’ve been putting off, or the looming block of meetings on your iCal. And at $248, it’s not too bad for a lasting boost in morale.
The Best Budget Desk Lamp: Lite Source Halotech
A halogen version of this lamp has a long track record of good performance, but you should probably spring for this energy-saving LED version that looks a lot more expensive than it is. It’s got a tilting neck like a crane for swooping down on your finest work, and uses stylish counterbalances to keep it aloft. Tap on the dimmer switch at the base to take your light back down to zero.
The Best Ultra-Thin Desk Lamp: Fully Beam
Where other lights go big on length or chunky bases, Fully’s Beam light narrows its focus with a desk lamp that’s more concerned with staying out of your way. The light utilizes an extra slim, bendable arm for achieving just the right arc of light, plus an eco-friendly LED bulb that toggles between four levels of brightness and warmth until you’ve achieved the perfect balance for knocking out an assignment. Blessedly, you also have options to choose between a solid base or a clamp fitted with rubber pads to avoid dinging up your desk surface.
The Best Desk Lamp-Slash-Bedside Light: Quattro
The Quattro task lamp enjoys a pivot as much as any industry, and can do so at a 90 degree rotation, thanks to its adjustable arm that holds its position via some internal compression mechanics. Designed by esteemed lightning geek Robert Sonneman, it also comes in a range of finishes and incorporates a built-in light dimmer for you to dial it back when you’ve tapped out for the evening. We liked it so much we crowned it with a Home Award in 2021, with the caveat that it’s probably even more fun hanging out on your bedside table than balancing on your desk.
The Best Splurge-Worthy Desk Lamp: In Common With Arundel
If budget isn’t a concern, In Common With’s high-design table lamps are the peak of handsome lighting. This Arundel model is like the Darth Vader of desk lamps: a striking expression of taste that would look just as formidable perched on a stack of books as it would a nightstand. It’s not super adjustable, but its long neck casts a wide arc to spotlight whatever you’re poring over. Swap out the shade and base colors for some eye-popping contrast if you’re jonesing for something jazzier than the monochromatic look.