Karlby began his career working for lighting companies Fog & Mørup and Lyfa, before founding his own design company in 1956. During the 1950s and 1960s, he created modernist lamps for brands such as Ikea, H. Sigh & Søn and Nordisk Solar Compagni. Karlby is best known for his famous Kontrast table lamp design, which enjoyed great success in the 1960s. With its simple geometric shapes and asymmetrical lampshade, this lamp quickly became a symbol of Danish design. Throughout his career, Karlby was recognized for his work with numerous prizes and awards, including the prestigious Good Design Award from the Architectural Institute of Chicago. Today, his lamps are considered classics of modern design.

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