in theatre lighting, died when the aptly-named Edison
was eight. Unable to pay his way, Price received no
more than a high school education and at the age of 17
joined his mother in keeping the family firm alive and
His moment came when the new, clean-cut office
architecture designed or inspired by Ludwig Mies
van der Rohe began to entrance the developers and
corporations that shaped the skylines of Manhattan
Price sold his interest in the family company and set
up anew. One of his first commissions was to design
and make the small luminaires that bathe the lobby of
the Seagram Building (Mies van der Rohe and Philip
Johnson) on New York’s Park Avenue with warm and
subtle light. The lamps in the building’s famous Four
Seasons restaurant (Philip Johnson) are also by Price.
He manufactured his own designs on the Upper East
Side until 1989 when he lost control of the company,
Edison Price Lighting, to his stockholders. He then
shifted his own operation to Brooklyn.
The family’s move was a way of expanding the
production of Price luminaires, while the designer
himself was always more interested in inventing.
The commissions continued to pour in from the
most inspired and successful US architects of the past
40 years, including Marcel Breuer, Philip Johnson,
IM Pei, inventor Buckminster Fuller and the great
Louis Kahn. At the last count his fittings (and lighting
schemes) feature in more than 200 museums and
Price died in 1997 on the night of the opening of a
new photography gallery at New York’s Metropolitan
Museum of Art, lit by his latest miniature spots.
Although he made a great success of many of the
buildings he worked on, it should be said that his
successors have a very long way to go before the vast
majority of architects, engineers and their clients begin
to use electric light sensitively.
For much of the last century, those who design our
buildings have been trying to rob them of the comfort
and pleasure of shadows, insisting that uniform lighting
– which humans abhor – is somehow scientific, rational
and efficient. It is no such thing. Almost a half a century
on, few architects or lighting designers have matched
the effectiveness and beauty of Price and Kahn‘s work
at Fort Worth.
Price was credited with many lighting ‘firsts’, including the design
of glare-free recessed fixtures for the track lighting systems that
have become a stock feature of architect-designed interiors