November 2, 2014


flos viscontea - viscontea pendant lamps by achille castiglioni from stardust.  these modern viscontea pendant light fixtures are design classics.  made from soft white cocoon fiber, a spray-on synthetic resin fibre developed in the us and used by george nelson for his bubble lamps; viscontea creates a cocoon-like wrap that diffuses light beautiful.  the material was discovered for use in lighting during the sixties by flos. in 1960, flos began its successful relationship with legendary designers achille and pier giacomo castiglioni. and george nelson created his equally iconic saucer and ball pendant lights.  achille castiglioni's viscontea suspension pendant was designed within the year; the 'cocoon' cover is sprayed directly onto the internal powder-coated steel fibre frame of the lampshade, thus creating the structural shape. the final spray-on coating protects the cocoon and guarantees its stability. from afar, the resulting, exquisitely organic shape looks like a giant seed pod encased within a cocoon. the viscontea lamp emits a diffused light. the cocoon collection helped to establish flos once and for all as a genuine innovator in the field of lighting design. viscontea was designed by castiglioni.

castiglioni’s designs were often inspired by (and made use of) everyday items, including aluminium and stainless steel. others, including the 1957 stella stool that featured a pivoting bicycle seat mounted on a tubular stem and a cast iron base, were inspired by the designer’s love of wit and paradox. born in milan, he studied architecture at the city’s polytechnic, a college he would return to as a tutor in the 1980s. after graduating he established a design studio with his elder brothers, working on commissions for italian manufacturers during the post-war renaissance. some of the relationships castiglioni formed during these early experiences lasted throughout the designer’s lifetime, notably one with flos, an italian lighting manufacturer, for whom he developed the arco floor lamp in 1962. 

modelled on a streetlight the lamp could project a light source eight feet away from its marble base. achille castiglioni designed the arco lamp for flos in collaboration with swiss graphic designer max bill. the playful and easy-on-the-eyes lamp was one of the last projects castiglioni worked on, and is an excellent example of the designer’s minimalist aesthetic. achille castiglioni (1918-2002) was one of the twentieth century’s most influential industrial designers and was honoured with eight compasso d’oro awards during his lifetime. castiglioni believed that, before designing, a designer had to first analyse how necessary the product was and then fully investigate the means that were available to develop and produce it.this lamp is available from stardust.