Contemporary Lighting Fixtures - A Cycle of Reinvention
29th Nov 2017
In 1960, Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni began an experiment based on reinvention. The brothers had seen how a sprayed polymer plastic fiber was used to protect American military vehicles, and quickly acquired the patent and began to dream up new applications. As with other industrial materials used by the designers, the Castiglioni brothers investigated how to scale and modify the polymer spray to their application of lighting for a completely new look. The resulting designs - Taraxacum, Gatto, and Viscontea - would become design icons and hallmarks of ingenuity.
All three designs stem from the same manufacturing process: a steel wire frame is sprayed with the polymer resin, which dries and hardens into a shell that softly diffuses the light source tucked within. Completely rigid surfaces flow like fabric over the wire frames, creating shapes that defy expectations and utilizing the free range of form allowed by the shape-shifting polymer. The spun-silk appearance and encasing nature of the application led the brothers to aptly name it "cocoon".
The resin/steel combination immediately captured the attention - and imaginations - of designers. Just a year after the original cocoon designs debuted, Tobia Scarpa took the process to new heights with the Fantasma floor lamp. The towering, ethereal structure further tested the abilities shown in Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni's smaller designs, emphasizing how the industrial materials could be coaxed into organic shapes.
More than 40 years later, FLOS and designer Marcel Wanders returned the cocoon resin for a fresh take on the now classic designs. In 2005, Wanders used the process to create Zeppelin lamp, a dreamy candelabra-inspired chandelier. Here, the individual strands emphasize the antique form beneath like a beautiful cobweb - characteristic of the designer's juxtaposition of modern and traditional forms. Just a few years later in 2011, FLOS and Wanders would teach yet another trick to an old dog. The Chrysalis floor lamp plays literally with the "cocoon" idea, hinting with an overhead shadow at the world of beauty developing inside.
From protective sealant for jeeps and tanks to a magical, light-giving Chrysalis, the polymer resin that fascinated the Castiglioni brothers has been reinvented over and over again. Following the legacy of Achille Castiglioni's ingenious eye for material and inspiration, FLOS is committed to constant exploration. Discover more of FLOS - old and new - in the decorative store, or watch the revolutionary cocoon process below.