Silk lampshades - a buyer's guide

Silk is a perfect material for lampshades, bringing a touch of the exotic orient into your home – whether that's a gathered Taj silk or the elegant simplicity of rolled Dupion. Here’s everything you need to know about silk lampshades and how to use them in your interior design…

Why silk?

Ever since some remarkably clever people in ancient China found a way to turn the cocoons of mulberry silk moths into clothing, silk has been the luxury fabric of choice in the East. It began to spread to the West some two thousand years ago as merchants trundled along the Silk Road – a network of trade routes connecting China to Central Asia and eventually to the Mediterranean and Europe. The Chinese invented sericulture (silk farming) and China remains the world's biggest silk producer. But India is the biggest consumer – and Indians turned silk into an art form and a cultural cornerstone. indian silk

To this day, we British still find a touch of the Eastern exotic in beautiful silk products – from dresses to curtains and, of course, lampshades. Pooky’s silk lampshades are sourced direct from some of the world’s most important sericulture centres, including Rajasthan and Tajikstan. Not only does silk bring affordable luxury into the home, it is very versatile – meaning we can create a variety of designs to suit a wide range of décor styles.

Choosing a silk lampshade

The versatility of silk means that you can choose from a rather bewildering range of lampshade styles and types. Here are some of the options…

1) Which shape?

The main lampshade shapes are Empire, Square and Drum. When deciding which one to go for you’ll want to think about both the lamp base and the décor of your room. In most cases you’ll want to match the shape of the silk shade with that of the base – so a round shade with a round-bottomed base, and so on. But there are times when mismatching works best – see our complete guide to choosing a lampshade here.

2) Gathered or rolled?

Silk lampshades can be ‘gathered’ – created a lovely retro, vintage sort of look (above). Or if you want something more sleek you can choose a rolled style, like the one below.


3) Neutral or bold colour?

Silk works well in simple, bold, single colours - and in neutrals, including whites and off-whites, while black silk can look extremely classy.

Using silk lampshades in your interior design

If you’re after a particular decorative style in your room, from retro to contemporary, or vintage to modern – you should be able to find a silk lampshade to go with it. Here are a few ideas that might inspire you…

Contemporary silk lampshades

If you have a modern, minimalist look in your room – perhaps mostly using whites or pale colours – then a really cost-effective way of injecting some bold contemporary colour is to go for a rolled machine-made Dupion lampshade (Dupion has a beautiful lustre that simply cannot be replicated from man made processes. Dupioni silk is one of the great treasures of India, the granddaddy of silks – and when it’s rolled it has a very pleasing sleek look, with a lustrous sheen. But it’s not too perfect – each piece is unique, carrying tiny imperfections known as ‘slubs’ (little bumps that occur when two silk worms spin cocoons close together). So in an otherwise whitish room, how about something like a shade in a "fuchsia" dupion silk (below) – perfect for a contemporary table lamp?

empire lampshade in fuchsia dupion silk

Retro or vintage silk lampshades

If your room has a retro or vintage scheme, you could try a gathered silk lampshade – ideal for floor lamps or table lamps. Below is an empire shade in gathered soft coral silk (below). When lit will create a warm, soft glow.


Unusual silk lampshades

If you want to make a bit of a statement with your lampshade – something big or just quirky – then the versatility of silk means that you can almost certainly find a piece that suits your purpose. How about a stone taj silk with ‘samurai’ patterned tape?

Those are just a few ideas for choosing the silk lampshade that works for you. You can shop our collection of silk lampshades here – and for more tips and inspiration, have a browse around our interiors blog.