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Italian lamps, technology and design
Rome - (Ign) - Stylistic innovation and design, together with technology, technical rigour and production capacity: an extremely delicate mix, difficult to dose and interpret, which represents the indispensable, and perhaps only key to success in a production sector which, perhaps more than any other, depends on apparently incompatible elements and components. This is the case of what technically is known as illumination engineering, but which in everyday language is known as the lighting industry, i.e. domestic lamps and public lighting systems. There are numerous complex reasons which have led the Italian industry in this sector (www.assoluce.it) to be a European leader with 30% of international trade, realising over €2 billion turnover per year, 55% of which is destined for foreign markets, in particular those of France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, America, Switzerland, Arabian countries, and Japan. This is a success which began after the Second World War and has been confirmed year by year, so that the "Italian lamp" is now universally acknowledged as being unique, becoming both a status symbol in the homes of millions of people, and an unmistakable example of design and creativity.
Some of these creations have marked the history of design and furnishing, such as the works of Achille Castiglioni, a designer of world fame, who died in December 2002, and gave us lamps such as "Arco" (in the photo, designed for Flos spa), "Taccia", "Snoopy", "Ipotenusa", "Diabolo", and dozens of others. But also those by Gianfranco Frattini, another great Italian designer, with his great "Boalum" designed for Artemide, and those by many other creative artists, not necessarily Italian, but who have found unique interest in their work in Italian industries in the sector and an equally unique capacity to technically and materially realise their ideas, transforming them into functioning and functional objects.
What leads from the idea to the finished product is, in the field of lighting, an extremely contorted path beset by difficulties. A lamp is above all an electric machine and must respond not only to aesthetic, but also to technical and safety requirements. And in order to combine elegant lines with the need to have electrical energy pass through it, while fully responding to the safety requirements laid down by the international standards organisations, a certain amount of skill is required. Basically, in this sector, technology and creativity have to find a meeting point. And this is precisely what the great Italian manufacturers have managed to do, from Artemide, Flos and Fabbian to Pallucco, Luxit and Nemo, without forgetting hundred-plus small and medium-sized enterprises operating in the sector.
The best example is in fact the "Arco" lamp by Flos, one of the most well-known Italian design products in the world, and a symbol of the "Italian lamp". It was the same designer, Achille Castiglioni, who said that the idea was to realise a standing lamp which in every way behaved like a hanging lamp, but which by its nature could offer discreet and comfortable lighting. To obtain this result "Arco" was designed, composed of an adjustable reflector in chrome metal, an arch of adjustable length and a beautiful base in Carrara marble. Simplicity and technology. But also good sense: the base has to be extremely heavy, and this explains the hole in the marble, which allows two people to carry the lamp by simply inserting a broom handle through it and lifting it up without the danger of dropping it. A single recipe: technology, inspiration in tradition, research for innovation, simplicity and common sense.