FLOS

The Ital­ian pow­er­house formed suc­cess­ful part­ner­ships with light­ing greats Castiglioni, Scarpa and Starck

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In 1962, an ex­cit­ing new chap­ter in Ital­ian light­ing be­gan when vi­sion­ary en­tre­pre­neur Dino Gav­ina and Ce­sare Cassina, co-founder of fur­ni­ture brand Cassina, set up Flos in Mer­ano, north­ern Italy. Their mis­sion? To dream up rad­i­cally in­no­va­tive light­ing de­signs. The cat­a­lyst for this was a meet­ing with Ar­turo Eisenkeil, an in­ven­tor seek­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for a tech­nique called ‘co­coon’, whereby poly­mer fi­bres were sprayed on skele­tal metal frames. The US army had de­ployed the tech­nique for pack­ag­ing and for pro­tect­ing their Jeeps from ad­verse weather con­di­tions. Recog­nis­ing that it could be used for light­ing, Gav­ina and Cassina man­u­fac­tured sev­eral un­usual, oth­er­worldly lamps, in­clud­ing the pod-like ‘Tarax­acum’ (1960) by broth­ers Achille and Pier Gi­a­como Castiglioni, and To­bia Scarpa’s ‘Fan­tasma’ (1961), which re­sem­bles a huge chrysalis.

Flos’s un­con­ven­tional in­cor­po­ra­tion of util­i­tar­ian el­e­ments into its de­signs, such as the Castiglioni broth­ers’ 1962 ‘Toio’ lamp, crowned by a car head­light, soon be­came its hall­mark. In the 1960s, busi­ness­man Ser­gio Gan­dini and his wife Piera be­came part­ners in the firm: their son Piero has been Flos’s CEO since 1996. He has ini­ti­ated col­lab­o­ra­tions with il­lus­tri­ous international de­sign­ers, en­cour­ag­ing them to push the en­ve­lope in terms of ma­te­ri­als and forms. Mem­o­rable ex­am­ples in­clude Philippe Starck’s ‘Miss Sissi’ of 1991, shaped like a ta­ble light but made of poly­car­bon­ate in a black­cur­rant hue, and Kon­stantin Gr­cic’s frosted plas­tic ‘May Day’ lamp (2000), topped by a hook that acts as a cable win­der.

More re­cently, Flos has launched Jasper Mor­ri­son’s ‘Su­per­loon’ floor lamp with a swiv­el­ling disc that emits a sil­ver glow in­spired by moon­light, and Pa­tri­cia Urquiola’s leaf-shaped ‘Ser­ena’ ta­ble lamp. By col­lab­o­rat­ing with such a di­verse ros­ter of de­sign­ers, Flos en­sures that its prod­uct range is ex­cit­ing and un­pre­dictable (flos.com).

FLOS BE­CAME FA­MOUS IN THE 1960S FOR ITS UN­CON­VEN­TIONAL USE OF UTIL­I­TAR­IAN EL­E­MENTS

From top ‘ Vis­con­tea’ pen­dant lights by Achille and Pier Gi­a­como Castiglioni (1960) hang at the Atrium show­room in Lon­don. ‘IC’ wall light by Michael Anas­tas­si­ades (2014). ‘Su­per­loon’ floor light by Jasper Mor­ri­son (2015). ‘Toio’ floor light by the...

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