LONDON // Call them '60s relics or hippy home accessories, lava lamps have been casting their dim but groovy light on interiors for half a century, having hit British shelves 50 years ago yesterday.
A British company began marketing their original creation as an "exotic conversation piece" in 1963. Since then, millions of models of the much-copied invention have been sold worldwide.
The design was created by British inventor Edward Craven-Walker, who was inspired by an odd-looking liquid-filled egg timer he saw in a pub in south-west Britain.
The former Second-World-War pilot then spent years transforming the concept into a home lighting accessory, having recognised the potential for such an invention during anything-goes '60s Britain.
Lava lamps are based on two liquids of slightly different density which will not mix. The heavier liquid sinks to the bottom, but when heated by the lamp light its density decreases and it floats to the top.
His invention has had roles in music videos and on television, having originally appeared in popular British television shows such as "The Prisoner" and "Doctor Who."
"I think it's the motion within the lamp," said Anthony Voz, a collector. "It kind of pulls people in and before you know it, you've spent 15 minutes looking at it."