The Rice Paper Lamp – From Tradition to Trend

Most of us have owned a rice paper lamp at some point, but it has made its comeback in interior design once again. In many people’s eyes, the rice paper is a simple and cheap solution that mainly belongs in bedrooms and hallways – but it has so much more potential. The Japanese design with the dreamy expression keeps coming back, and it deserves better than being considered an emergency solution.

You’re no doubt familiar with the red paper lanterns with frills and gold details that are used for carnivals and public holidays in East Asia. The lamp has a traditional place in the annual mid-harvest festival in China, where it symbolises the light and heat of the sun and acts as a prayer for the sun to return after the winter.

The rice paper lamp as we know it is still used in connection with parties and celebrations, but this is a further developed version of the East Asian lamp. In Europe, the lamp was particularly popular in the 80s. But the light material was quickly superseded by the industrial designs that brought in steel, alloys, and acrylic sheets. Now, 40 years later, the lamp has finally become part of the modern design portfolio, and numerous popular brands are creating their own impressive and lovely rice paper lamps that add a stylish, Asian expression to your existing interior design.
Tradition Meets Modern Design

Tradition Meets Modern Design

In recent years, the rice paper lamp has become one of the trendiest objects in interior design. We see them all over furniture stores and social media – circular and oval lamps in all sorts of sizes and colours. The huge version lights up the living room at different heights, while the lamp in large bunches creates an almost galactic expression.

The Danish designer brand New Works has focused on shapes, colours, and complementary materials. Their interpretation of the rice paper lamp, Lantern, is a good example of what happens when you mix retro design with new materials. At a distance, the lamp looks like a rice paper lamp, but it’s made of matted glass that creates a calm and diffuse light in much the same way as the traditional rice paper lamp.

Aside from a gorgeous pendant, Lantern is also available as a floor, wall, ceiling, and table lamp, all of which work particularly well for the cosy corners of your home. You can use them as night lights or floor lamps in your living room to ramp up the cosy atmosphere.


The popular matted glass can also be found in Foscarini’s take on the modern rice paper lamp – Rituals. This lamp expresses its magic with an incredibly exciting slit in the surface, which creates a graphic effect and is reminiscent of the original design – rice paper pulled over a slender bamboo frame.

On the other side of the spectrum, there is Ingo Maurer who have used the traditional material and combined it with the shape of a classic lampshade to create the Maur Pendant and wider collection. The thin paper is stretched over a metal frame, giving rise to a unique and decorative lamp with similar qualities to the rice paper lamp and casting a soft and comfortable glow.

The rice paper lamp is often seen in its round shape, but this is not the only type out there. The stylish Formakami from &tradition was inspired by the Asian rice paper lanterns, and this is clearly reflected in the design. With a black-stained oak material, the lamp achieves a stylish and modern expression. The designer, Jamie Hayon, states that the lamp represents a point at which the past becomes the present. The lamps fit seamlessly with the core values of &tradition who strive to combine tradition with modern design.

Rice Paper Lamps in Modern Décor

Regardless of whether you choose a lamp made from rice paper or one inspired by rice paper and made from matted glass, you are guaranteed to end up with the cosy, soft lighting that the lamp is known for. The soft and comfortable glow creates an atmosphere of relaxation, which is one of the basic principles of Nordic interior design. The semi-transparent materials, organic shapes, and white or off-white colours are the perfect fit for any Scandinavian décor.

The rice paper lamp is a true design classic that will never go out of fashion. As natural materials enter into public focus – particularly with the environment and the cosy atmosphere in mind – paper is an increasingly welcome material in the world of lamp design.