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The Making of an Icon: Arco Lamp by Flos

 Arco Lamp
50th Anniversary

The Making of an Icon
Achille Castiglioni and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni's Arco Lamp
Designed in 1962 for Flos

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the design of the Arco Lamp by the Italian designers Achille Castiglioni and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni.  So today we pay tribute to this classic icon of modern design and we follow the Arco's production process all the way from the marble quarries in the town of Carrara Italy to the Flos workshops where masters artisans cut and polish the marble blocks to give the Arco base its iconic shape.  Carrara, Italy's most noble material, has been used since the time of Ancient Rome; the Pantheon and Trajan's Column in Rome are constructed of it. Many sculptures of the Renaissance were carved from Carrara marble and it was Michelangelo's favorite. Carrara marble was a natural choice for the Castiglioni brothers when they presented their design to Flos in 1962.  Not only for aesthetic reasons but also to give the Arco its perfect balance and stability. The 72.50 kilogram base (160 lbs) of the Arco Lamp makes it one of the heaviest floor lamps around.  Achille Castiglioni and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni solved this by adding a little hole in the marble base which would allow it to be moved by two people with... a broomstick.

Detail of the Arco's Diffuser as seen from above (image credit Stardust.com)

The ever-stylish Arco Lamp is a landmark of modern design that's still turning heads wherever it is placed.  The popular story about the design history of Arco Lamp was that Achille Castiglioni was unhappy with the fact that there was no electrical output for a ceiling lamp above his own dining table in his home. Most rooms have the electrical output for a ceiling lamp right in the middle of the ceiling, but most dining tables are not placed in the middle of a room. For this reason the Casiglioni brothers designed the Arco lamp, partly to solve Achille Castiglioni's own problem at home but also because they believed there was a general need for this type of lighting solution. The Castiglioni brothers were right on the money; the Arco Lamp became one of the most popular lamps in the history of Flos. So many have been sold by Flos over the last 50 years that it is estimated that
1 out of 10 homes in Italy has an Arco Lamp!

Image and text credits: Lucia Fontana for moderndesign.org