Design Icon #1: Arco Lamp by Castiglioni


Today I want to inaugurate a new section dedicated to design icons and the first object of which I speak will be a lamp that I love so much…

The Arco lamp has been designed by Achille and Piergiacomo Castiglioni and is in continuous production since 1962. It is now considered a design classic, an icon of italian design.


One of the unique features of this design is that every part has a function including the beveled corners (designed not to hurt) and the hole for easier lifting of the base. This modern floor lamp comes with a genuine Carrera marble base that supports a spun aluminum reflector via a curved stainless steel adjustable stem. The height extends to almost 2 meters, allowing placement of a table or a couch underneath. The Arco floor lamp is available in LED or incandescent and provides direct and indirect light, thanks to the hole in the aluminum reflector. You buy the Arco lamp here.


Behind the Design

The Castiglioni brothers loved to play around with designs that were both technically innovative and visually appealing. Taking inspiration from a mere streetlight, the brothers wanted to create a lamp that people did not have to walk around. For this to work, the base had to be at least two meters away from the actual light. They used commercially available parts ( that is a fascinating recurring feature of their projects ) and found that curved steel angle iron worked perfectly with their design. They opted for a marble base as a counterweight instead of concrete because the same weight took up less space, and also because they could obtain a better finish for a lower cost.

Here is a little bit of inspiration








Now it’s time to talk about the amazing Castiglioni brothers, the designers of this design icon…


Achille e Piergiacomo Castiglioni

Achille Castiglioni was born in Milan in 1918. He graduated from Politecnico di Milano University with a degree in architecture in the late 1930s and, shortly after, set up a design office with his brothers Livio and Pier Giacomo in Milan. There, he dedicated himself to experimenting with industrial products. Achille, along with his brothers, went on to become one of the most renowned industrial designers in post-war Italy. He was one of the founding members of Association for Industrial Design (Associazione per il Disegno Industriale, ADI), established in 1956.

Pier Giacomo Castiglioni was born in 1913. In 1937, he established the “Architecture,Urban Buildings and Research into Industrial Design” practice with his brother Livio. In 1952 Livio left; another brother, Achille joined the practice in 1944. He graduated from the Department of Architecture at Milan Polytechnic in 1937 and co-wrote a libel on the Milan Town Planning Scheme: “Fifty Significant Squares in theMilanof the Future” with the architect Carlo Pagani in 1938. Lecturer and Assistant in Architectural Composition, Professor in Drawing and Relief Work at the Milan Faculty of Architecture. Member of the Board at the Association of Architects and at the Milan City Council Building Commission.

The designers have won nine “Compasso d′Oro” awards, including a special mention as an individual dedicated to industrial design who, by means of his incomparable experience, “elevated industrial design to the highest levels of culture,” in 1989. In their lifetime, they designed on close to 150 objects, many of which are still in production today and are still trendy. They leave us a beautiful legacy! Their works are included in permanent collections in museums all around the world, including 14 pieces at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Summarizing, the strengths of Arco are the minimalistic design and careful use of materials. You can place it anywhere. The concept is simple: a diffuser in chromed metal, an adjustable length steel arch and a Carrara marble base. A last advantage: even if it weighs 65 kg, the Arco lamp can be easily moved thanks to the ingenious found of the Castiglioni brothers: a hole on a marble base for the insertion of a stick that becomes a pair of handles for two people. 


I leave you with one last curiosity about Arco lamp: although he looks so light, it’s super durable, so as to bear the weight of a man hanging on to the rod! 

Do you like this lamp as much as I do?

Stay tuned for an other episode of Design Icon, next week here on the blog!


For more info about Arco lamp see the site of Flos and Fondazione Achille Castiglioni.

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