Lampshades have existed in history since the eighteenth century. Originally, though, these were used for a completely different purpose than just appearance. In the eighteenth century street lamps had oil wicks which were lighted to provide light. The problem with this system was that the light from the oil wicks were pointed upwards. The point of street lights was to light up the streets. Therefore, lamp shades were used to reflect the light back down on to the streets. Additionally, a reflector was also placed at the bottom of the oil wick lampshades so that the light was spread out evenly in a horizontal direction as well.
Then, in the mid-nineteenth century the concept of gas lamps were developed. Gas lamps had a completely different problem to oil wick lamps. Although gas lamps were much brighter in comparison to the oil wick lamps, they burned releasing sulfur, which was capable of poisoning people. It was, therefore, essential to isolate the gas flames that gave out the street lights. This called for the use of lampshades. Lampshades were then used to cover these gas flames. The lampshades used to cover the gas flames were made of either opal glass or light fabric shades. These protected the flame and contained it.
Eventually as electricity was born and it started to gain popularity, the same tradition continued. Lampshades were used to cover the electric lights as well. Colored lampshades were created and used for different purposes. With time, several other versions of the lampshades were created.
Today, we have lampshades that will suit any taste and fit any purpose. They are made using different materials to better suit each varying purpose. For instance in China, lampshades are made out of mainly paper and wire frame. These kinds of lampshades are unique only to China. Likewise, other countries make lampshades from other different materials. The most common type of lampshades we get today is made out of glass. The reason is because glass is a material that is easy to design into different shapes and coloring can be used to color the glass, as a result coloring the light. Aluminum is also used in lamp shades for holding the bulbs. Aluminum is a light metal and is, therefore, an ideal metal to be used in lampshades.
In addition to providing us with light, lampshades also act as a form of art. Like art is placed in homes to be admired, lampshades are also hung on walls and placed on tables to be admired.