The sun is the closest star to planet Earth and both the sun and the stars have been worshiped and represented by humans in various ways for centuries. In Greek mythology Helios was the God of the Sun, the charioteer who drove the Sun across the sky each day. He was a kind god and depicted with a shining aureole. His weakness was his own fire because sometimes it could burn him. Just like the sun.
In 1964 Dieter Rams, Reinhold Weiss, and Dietrich Lubbs designed the Braun Cosmolux HUV 1 sun lamp. Anodised aluminium, enameled steel and plastic combined in a streamline design that could give you an opportunity to attain a glow somewhat different to the one of Helios. With the Cosmolux HUV 1 you could sun bake at anytime without having to go outside in the sun. In western culture tanned skin was used to be associated with the sun-exposed manual labour of the lower-class but has been considered more attractive and healthier since the middle of the 20th century.
The 1960ties was also a period where package holidays to Spain and Italy with flight, transfer and accommodation included, were gaining popularity. In that perspective the Cosmolux HUV 1 could be used to maintain the tan after the holiday or maybe to tan the whole family who could not afford to go on holiday? Advertisements for sun lamps by other brands shows how the whole family including small children are happy while tanning in their home. I would have liked to see some documentation of how one looks like after using the Cosmolux HUV 1, but unfortunately I did not succeed to find any and I don’t dare to try myself.
My own experience with a similar product goes back to my childhood where the mother of one of my friends, had installed a sun bed in her bedroom. We were 3 kids, just managing to squeeze together under the lamp, each with dark goggles covering our eyes. After 20 minutes or so we would come out all looking more stained than tanned due to the squeezed positions we had been laying in. Only this one time were we allowed to use the sun bed, but I remember the mother looking very tanned for the whole winter.
The year 1964 was also the year that the movie star George Hamilton starred in the movie “Your Cheatin’ Heart”. Whether he has been using the Cosmolux HUV 1 or not is not clear – however he has until today been a representative of the very tanned look. A look that seems to fade in present times as it becomes more and more clear that extreme sunbathing has unhealthy side effects such as skin cancer.
An article published in the “International Journal of Primatology” in 2009: “Facial Skin Coloration Affects Perceived Health of Human Faces” investigate the role of overall skin colour, in determining perceptions of health in Caucasian face photographs. Arguing that redder and yellower skin now has a healthier appearance nowadays in contemporary western culture. These preferences are linked with higher levels of red oxygenated blood in the skin associated with aerobic fitness and healthy lifestyle and the extreme tanning has changed to be a symbol of not taking care of yourself.
The original function of the sunlamps was far from the George Hamilton and the western world beauty ideals. Going back to the 1890ties the Nobel Prize winning Faeroese doctor Niels Finsen was investigating what benefit the sun really gave and the effect of light on the skin. He created the first device, an ultraviolet lamp, to generate technically synthesized sunlight resulting in the treatment of patients suffering from a Lupus Vulagaris, a special type of skin tuberculosis. He founded the Finsensinstituttet 1896 at the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark which today hosts the department for cancer research. Somewhat ironic in the context of it’ s later development and use of UV – lamps.
So the idea of Cosmulux HUV 1 originated from a medical product and was changed in to a household product. Going through the list of Braun designs is also like going through a journey of memories of different lifestyle in the last century.
Today a Cosmulux HUV 1 is for sale on Ebay with bidding starting at US $ 149,99..