Artemide, designer lamps since 1960

Artemide, an icon of designer lighting since 1960

Putting light at the service of man and his needs. This is the motto that, in 1996, appeared in the manifesto of Artemide, an international company specializing in designer lighting, founded in 1960 by Ernesto Gismondi and Sergio Mazza. Technological research, dialogue with great architects but also investigation in the socio-cultural field have been, from the very beginning of Artemide’s journey, the basis of innovative projects capable even over time of illuminating the future with the same force and lasting without ever going out of fashion. Think of the iconic design lamps of the 1960s, with their rounded and gentle shapes, currently perfect in environments with minimalist and contemporary interior designs. Today, the Milanese company’s collections represent a unique intersection of values: the human and responsible approach to light is combined with design and material know-how, in an encounter between state-of-the-art technology and ancient knowledge, the perfect synthesis expression of today’s sustainable design. To have an Artemide lamp in the home is to own internationally recognized contemporary design icons, exhibited in the world’s leading modern art museums and design collections. Simply put, it means giving character and identity to a room, creating atmosphere through light, designed specifically to enhance every corner of the house.

Vico Magistretti’s Eclisse and Dalù, 1960s style and shapes that are always current

The talent and creative flair of Vico Magistretti, one of the fathers ofinterior design, is linked hand in hand with that of Artemide and designer lighting. His are some achievements that have changed the history of designer lamps in the last 40 years, giving a design object a new role in the home, active, functional and at the same time innovative and aesthetically beautiful. Two of his masterpieces for Artemide have become icons of innovation and light design, and both are table lamps, capable of soft light that creates atmosphere. The first is the famous Eclisse , which earned him the famous “Compasso d’oro” award in 1967.  It is one of the most relevant industrial design products of the 20th century, and has become one of the symbols of Italian design in the world, so much so that it is part of the permanent collection of the Milan Triennale, and that of the MoMa in New York. The story goes that Magistretti, in 1965, while on the Milan subway, was thinking of Jean Valjean’s lantern, described in Victor Hugo’s novel, “Les Miserables,” in New York City. His first idea, in fact,  was to create a lamp by combining a pair of spheres, and he thus made a sketch on the back of the card so that he would not forget his new design concept.

Thus was born this iconic lamp, inspired by the astronomical phenomenon from which it derives its name, and reflected in Magistretti’s design. It, in fact, allows the user to obscure, at will, the light source by superimposing a solid round body on top of it in a scrolling manner and thus regulate its luminous flux; if the light source is completely covered, only the outer glow remains, reminiscent of a total eclipse. This is a very functional feature, as it can be used as a direct or diffuse light source, depending on the intended use. Another design lamp created by Vico Magistretti for Artemide is the Dalú, with sinuous but essential lines and different colors beyond the usual black and white, an evergreen that has just turned 50 years old and doesn’t show it at all. New editions of this design piece with bright, vitamin colors tell the story of our time with original, flowing forms. The lamp consists of a molded thermoplastic shell for direct light emission without glare. Working expertly on shaping the form, Magistretti achieved a single molded abs piece that serves as both a base and a hemispherical shell containing the bulb. Eclisse and Dalù are capable of embellishing even the most minimal interiors thanks to their soft lines, as modern yesterday as they are today, proving that investing, for one’s home, on timeless pieces is a winning move to give character, luxury, and exclusivity to one’s dwelling. 

Boalum, having a glowing snake on the bedside table

“A serpent of infinite light.” This is how Domus magazine defined the Boalum lamp, designed, in 1970, by Livio Castiglioni and Gianfranco Frattini and immediately entered the history of Italian and world design , because it was experimental in both form and technology.

In fact, it is a flexible light source that can be arranged in various configurations to give rise to wonderful sculptural effects; its translucent, reinforced flexible PVC structure with resin terminals makes it virtually indestructible.

Characteristic of this lamp is that each section can be grafted and connected to another, reaching up to eight meters in length.  The Boalum lamp perfectly embodies the pop design sensibility that challenged conventional product types, effectively paving the way for a new generation of irreverent domestic objects full of life, precisely because it was born in the years of the most extreme experimentalism. Indeed, it was not only a bedside lamp, it could find a place on the walls but also in the more informal rooms of a typical 1960s house, where, partly out of rebellion, partly out of nonconformity, one did not sit but rather lay down with friends, and the furniture was ‘living’ objects, interchangeable and adaptable to alternative social situations. So here was the ideal lighting product for these new soft, inflatable, stackable, collapsible and even fluid furniture pieces. Today, that nothing is left to chance in lighting design, Boalum takes on a new, less anti conventional role. It is an international design icon chosen for diffuse lighting and, at the same time to decorate a room giving it some of its original, irreverent and sophisticated character.

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