The iconic lighting design, which originated in France in 1953, makes a statement in any room. Here are five ways to score the look for less.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

With its iconic spider-like swinging arms, a duckbill light fixture can instantly add style to your room—and you probably won't see the same lighting at your neighbor's house. "This iconic mid-century piece doesn't feel as played out as some other mid-century looks," says Alessandra Wood, a design historian and vice president of style at online interior design service Modsy.

The distinctive design comes in a variety of forms, including wall sconces, floor lamps, and ceiling-mount fixtures, all featuring thin, angular arms and metal shades with a beak-like shape. The style is incredibly versatile and can work in nearly any room in your home. Although these sculptural lamps are sold at retailers throughout the country today, the duckbill light originated in France decades ago.

modern black and white living room with shelf wall
Credit: Brie Williams

The distinguishing duckbill shape is credited to Serge Mouille, a Parisian designer who worked as a silversmith before pivoting to lighting design. In 1953, he designed a three-arm lamp with moveable arms and adjustable black shades, whose smooth curves were inspired by the female form, says Wood. A year later, Mouille applied a similar design to a two-arm wall sconce before repeating the lampshade style across a range of fixtures. His sculptural approach to lighting design emphasized the visual appearance of the fixture as well as its tactile characteristics. "He had a motto that lamps were meant to be touched," adds California-based interior designer Michelle Lisac.

small white bedroom wall length green headboard
Credit: David Tsay

The adjustable, multi-functional design grew in popularity due to a suburban housing boom in the U.S. during the 1950s and '60s, when smaller houses compelled designers to look critically at how every inch of space could be used inside the home, Wood says. The style helped save space in cramped interiors while adding a boost of sophisticated style.

Living room with wooden coffee table and white furniture
Credit: David A Land

Although an original Serge Mouille design will set you back about $7,000, there are plenty of contemporary reproductions available at a more reasonable price. We've rounded up five picks to help you score the duckbill lighting trend for less.

Related Items

black duckbill wall sconce
Credit: Courtesy of West Elm

Black and Brass Duckbill Wall Sconce

This streamlined sconce puts a modern twist on the iconic mid-century design. A brass finish on the swinging arm adds warmth to a classic matte-black shade. With a tiltable shade, it's perfect for shedding light above a bedside table or reading chair. A plug-in design makes this fixture easy to install wherever you need it.

Buy It: Curvilinear Mid-Century Sconce, $199, West Elm

Credit: Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

Three-Light Ceiling Fixture

This three-light fixture brings Mouille's original design into the present day. The black duckbill shades adjust in all directions so you can light an entire room. At 47 inches wide, this steel statement piece works well in living rooms or large bedrooms.

Buy It: Modway View 3-Light Ceiling Fixture in Black, $255.99, Bed Bath & Beyond

black duckbill floor lamp
Credit: Courtesy of Houzz

Duckbill Floor Lamp

This floor lamp offers the same mid-century modern style in a standing fixture. Featuring a three-legged base and sleek, angled frame, it stands just over 5 feet tall. The black duckbill shade tilts to direct light, making it an ideal reading lamp.

Buy It: Orvar One-Arm Floor Lamp Standing Lamp, Black, $378.01, Houzz

black swing arm wall sconce
Credit: Courtesy of CB2

Mid-Century Wall Sconce

This contemporary interpretation borrows the angular arm of the original duckbill design but presents the shade in a more rounded silhouette. Available in a black, brass, or nickel finish, the steel shade swivels and rotates 360 degrees for versatile task lighting. Mounted on a wood wall plate, the fixture includes plug-in hardware, so there's no electrical work needed for installation.

Buy It: Mantis Swivel Wall Sconce, $149, CB2

two arm duckbill ceiling light
Credit: Courtesy of Wayfair

Two-Armed Duckbill Pendant

A pared-down version of Mouille's original three-light ceiling fixture, this two-armed pendant is right-sized for mounting above a kitchen island or dining room table. It stretches about 3.5 feet wide and the arms reach down about 22 inches. Solid brass accents contrast adjustable duckbill shades in a matte black finish.

Buy It: Halterman 2-Light Kitchen Island Linear Pendant, $499.99, Wayfair


Be the first to comment!