|Type||UK Limited Company|
|Founder(s)||Edward Craven Walker|
|Headquarters||Poole, Dorset, UK|
|Key people||Cressida Granger
The Astro lamp, or lava lamp, was invented around 1963 by Edward Craven Walker. It was adapted from a design for an egg timer spotted in a pub in Dorset, England. Edward and Christine Craven-Walker licensed the product to a number of overseas markets whilst continuing to manufacture for the European market themselves under the original name of the company, Crestworth. The rights to produce and sell the lamp on the American market for the duration of the patent were sold to Lava Simplex International, in 1966. The American company has now closed the American factory and has the lava lamps made in China.
In Europe Craven-Walker’s original lava lamp designs have been in continuous production since the early 1960s and are still made today by Mathmos in Poole, Dorset, UK. The Mathmos lava lamp formula developed initially by Craven-Walker in the 1960s and then improved with his help in the 1990s is still used.
Mathmos’ lava lamp sales have been through a number of ups and downs. After selling millions of lamps worldwide in the 1960s and 70s they did not revive until the 1990s. In 1989 Cressida Granger and David Mulley took over the running of Walker's original company, Crestworth, situated in Poole, Dorset, and changed the name to Mathmos in 1992. It now sells both lava lamps and other ambient lighting.
The 1990s re-launch of the original lava lamps saw sales grow strongly for Mathmos again from 10,000 lamps a year in 1989 to 800,000 lamps a year in 1999. Mathmos won two Queens Awards for Export and a number of other business awards. Edward Craven-Walker remained a consultant and company director at Mathmos until his death in 2000.
Since 1999 under the sole ownership of Cressida Granger, Mathmos has been widening its product range whilst maintaining and building on the classic Mathmos lava lamp range.  Mathmos develops new products both in house with the Mathmos Design Studio and with a number of external designers such as Ross Lovegrove and El Ultimo Grito.
New lines include a range of LED colour changing and rechargeable lights, several of which have won design awards. Mathmos has also developed new lighting technologies such as Airswitch technology that enables the user to turn lights on and off and also to dim and brighten them by moving a hand above the lamp.
Mathmos also innovates with its lava lamp range, launching Fireflow, the first tealight-powered lava lamp, in 2009. In 2011 Mathmos launched Smart Astro the first colour changing chip controlled lava lamp. Mathmos celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2013.
Business and marketing awards
Product design awards
“Grito” lamp shade: Red Dot Award 2006
“Airswitch tc” light: Gift Magazine Design Homewares winner 2005.
“Aduki” Design Week commendation 2003
“Tumbler” light: Form 2001 award, Red Dot Award 2002, Design Week commendation 2002
“Fluidium”: Design Week finalist best consumer product 2001, FX Magazine finalist best lighting product 2000
“Bubble” Light: Industrial Design Excellence Award (IDEA) 2001, D&AD commendation 2001,
Red Dot Award 2001,
Light Magazine Decorative Lighting Award 2001
Exhibitions and design yearbooks
Mathmos Vintage Lava Lamp Exhibition 2009 at London Design Festival
“Astro” Design Icons Exhibition Harrods & Design Museum 2008
“Telstar” Space Age, Museum of Childhood 2007
“bubble, Airswitch tc, aduki ni, grito” all in the V&A permanent collection from 2006
“Airswitch tc” V&A “Touch Me” exhibition spring 2005
“Fluidium” “Blobjects and Beyond” San Jose Museum of Art 2005
‘bubble” Great Expectations Exhibition Design Council 2003
“Aduki” light: International Design Year Book 2003
“Tumbler” International Design Year Book 2002.
“Bubble” “Skin” exhibition at Cooper Hewitt Museum New York 2001
“bubble” Design Council exhibition New York 2002, International Design Year Book 2001
- Melanie Rickey, The material world / Light of our lives, The Independent, 27 January 1996
- The Independent, Melanie Rickey, Saturday, 27 January 1996 The material world / Light of our lives
- Lava lamp creators mark 50 years of 1960s icon, BBC News, 30 August 2013
- Miranda Haines, "Lava Lamps Keep Firm Floating", International Herald Tribune, 22 January 1996
- Mathmos at Southbank Centre, The London Design Festival, September 2013
- Features, Meet the lady of the (lava) lamps, Daily Echo, February 2, 2013
- The Guardian, Space 27th April 2000
- Design Week, Miriam Cadji, 30 August 2001, Modern Retro. Subscription only
- The Guardian, Mil Millington, 1 July 2006
- Lava lamp creators mark 50 years of 1960s icon, BBC News, 30th August, 2013
- Far out, man: world’s largest lava lamp, Time Out, 11 September, 2013
- Wired, Lava Lamp’s 50 Years of Gooey Light by Roberto Baldwin, 9th March 2013
- The Independent 21 April 1997
- Fast Track 100
- Marketing Magazine, Derek Scanlon, 16 July 1998 NEW MEDIA: This Is London grabs top prize at Yell Awards
- London Design Festival
- V and A Museum
- V&A Museum "V&A Museum".
- The Sunday Times, Hugh Pearman, 23 November 2003, Design Classics - Lava Lamp. Subscription only.