BestLite by Gubi

BestLite by Gubi

  • Klubiensvej 7 - 9
  • Pakhus 53
  • 2100
  • København
  • Denmark

Furniture by BestLite by Gubi

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History of BestLite by Gubi


One day, back in 1989, Lisbeth and Gubi Olsen were browsing the shops in central Copenhagen when they came across a simple and functional lamp which immediately caught their attention. When they entered the shop, which happened to sell shoes, they were told that the lamp was a Bestlite made by the lighting manufacturer Best & Lloyd in Birmingham, UK.

Shortly afterwards, Gubi and his eldest son Jacob booked a flight to Birmingham, where they had a meeting with Bestlite’s manufacturer. Once, Best & Lloyd was a jewel in the UK manufacturing sector, supplying Buckingham Palace, the Titanic, Downing Street, the
Orient Express and other prestigious customers. Now there were only 15 employees left in the old and dilapidated premises, which were once occupied by 1,000 workers. Gone were the boom times when the company had its own shops at exclusive addresses in Paris, Rome, London and New York. The products were now wrapped in newspaper, and it was hard to find evidence on the site of Best & Lloyd’s glorious past. In 1994, the two Best and Gubi families signed an agreement that Gubi would take over the sales rights in Scandinavia.

In 2004, Gubi took over the global production and sales rights, and Bestlite could look forward to a promising new future. Today, Bestlite is sold in the best design shops worldwide, and a noble history has been revived.

The Gubi family is currently reviewing the old design archives which Robert Dudley Best left on his death. The extensive collection of drawings offers fantastic opportunities for supplementing the existing Bestlite collection with more original models. Robert Dudley Best spent a decade designing the Bestlite models.

May 2008 will see the relaunch of the BL10, which Best produced specially for Birmingham’s diamond cutters. And in October 2008, the BL9XL arrives – a mega pendant.


Bestlite is a textbook example of the revolutionary development and innovation within design and architecture which swept through Germany between 1919 and 1933. Known as the Bauhaus period, it was a reaction within design and architecture to the exuberant decoration and trimmings that were a feature of the time. The Bauhaus school focused instead on simplicity and functionality.

Bauhaus was highly innovative, and a rebellion against tradition, seeking to break down the barriers between art on the one hand and industry and functionality on the other. Bauhaus is one of the movements which has had the greatest significance for the development of design and architecture in the 20th and 21st centuries.


Bestlite saw the light of day in Birmingham in 1930. Today, the lamp is regarded as a jewel in the English design tradition.

When Robert Dudley Best launched his Bestlite lamp in 1930, its functionality first made it a hit with the industrial sector. The lamp had its real breakthrough in 1932 with the English architectural community after being described in the prominent architectural magazine Architects’ Journal as the first example in the country of a Bauhaus product.

The British prime minister had his official residence fitted out with Bestlite. This has made Bestlite one of the most famous lamps in the country.

The largest museum in the world for art and design, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, exhibits and presents Bestlite as an English design classic.


The lamps at Best & Lloyd always played an important role in the life of Robert Dudley Best (1892-1984). Throughout his childhood, Robert Dudley spent much of his time playing at the lamp factory, he was friends with the families that worked there, and in Birmingham he was well known as the heir to Best & Lloyd. It was therefore not surprising when Robert Dudley Best decided to study industrial and interior design, specialising in lamps, in Düsseldorf and Paris.

In 1928 Best travelled to Düsseldorf and then to Paris. Here he was strongly influenced by the Bauhaus movement, which was taking Europe by storm with its stringent lines and clean style. His immersion in the creative milieu inspired Robert Dudley so much that, during his studies in 1928-29, he designed the lamp collection which subsequently became synonymous with his name.

Best was bursting with enthusiasm and ideas for how his groundbreaking designs would take the factory, which his grandfather and father had headed for 70 years, into a new epoch. Best wanted the factory’s collection to symbolise the spirit of the times, appealing to avant garde architects and setting the agenda for lamp design. Bestlite was the vehicle to achieve these aims.

After his inspiring studies and back home in Birmingham, Best showed his drawings to his father. However, Best senior took some persuading before the lamp was put into production in 1930. His
father, who was the second generation of the family to run Best & Lloyd, doubted whether his son’s modern lamp – with its clean design – would tie in with the company’s existing collection and the fashions of the times. And initially, the first examples did not appeal to the company’s regular customers, who wanted decorated lamps.

It was the industrial sector that first saw the possibilities inherent in Bestlite’s functionality, quality and durable design. After an article in the renowned Architects’ Journal, the English
architectural community embraced the lamp, and declared it the first example of a Bauhaus-inspired product in the UK. Winston Churchill also fell for the Bestlite. In addition to sitting on his desk in Whitehall, he also took the lamp with him on his countless trips around the world. The lamp had achieved its breakthrough.

Robert Dudley Best continued to develop the collection until the late 1930s. Today, ten of his lamps are in production.


In 1840, Robert Dudley Best’s grandfather, Robert Best, started a candlestick factory. The factory had its major breakthrough when Robert Best invented a special safety wick, which could reduce the risk of fires. The safety wick sold extremely well, and the foundation for the company’s financial success was laid.

In 1868, Robert Best went into partnership with a banker, Harry Lloyd. They continued to develop the business together, which was now called Best & Lloyd. The company grew in record time, with the factory being enlarged several times. After just a few years, the factory occupied 1.6 hectares (4 acres), and was the world’s biggest lamp manufacturer.

Robert Dudley Best took over the world’s biggest lighting empire from his father. In 1979 – five years before he died – he handed over the company to his son John Best. In its heyday, Best & Lloyd had 1,000 employees and was a purveyor to the British royal family.


In 1880, Best & Lloyd switched production from candlesticks to gaslights. The gaslight technology had just been developed as a new light source. Until then, gas had been regarded as dangerous because of its explosive properties. The company’s employees therefore found it difficult to believe that the new gas technology was suitable for lighting. However, when the gas technology was incorporated into the company’s products, the workforce enthusiastically welcomed the development. They could see the huge difference the gaslight technology made, and the technological advance it represented. The employees’ reaction was captured in a drawing that was subsequently engraved on all the Bestlite’s bolts together with the UK serial

The logo shows a delighted man with his arms raised in the air, and also guarantees that it is a genuine Bestlite from 1930.

© BestLite by GUBI

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