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THE ARCO LAMP (Brothers Castiglioni-1962)

Arco is a lamp designed by the Italian brothers Pier Giacomo and Achille Castiglioni in 1962 for Flos, an Italian company focused on lighting and furniture.

This is one of the most famous and sold industrial design objects, as well as an iconic objects of Italian design. It is part of the permanent collections of Triennale Design Museum in Milan and Moma in New York.

It is one of the first industrial design object which is given the copyright protection like an artwork.

Achille Castiglioni always remained loyal to his principle: “The form must follow the inner logic of the objects. The inspiration of their renewal change comes from this observation and analysis”.

The ordinary street lights influenced the Arco lamp, which Castiglioni designed, together with other objects, in collaboration with his brother Pier Giacomo.

Companies such as Alessi, De Padova, Gavina, Zanotta etc. commissioned them some works.

The main concept of this lamp is its versatility and practicality. The brothers started to work on the idea of creating a light source suspended exactly above the place of interest which can be a table, a desk or a book, without being linked to a fixed point.

The light source of the Arco lamp, thanks to its structure which allows to use the space beneath it, hits the desired location directly, like a chandelier. The only difference is that the Arco lamp can be transported.

Actually, the lamp is equipped with a through hole with circular section in the marble base. It allows, just by inserting a stick such as a broomstick, to easily move the lamp from a place to another one. It was designed for business establishments, such as restaurant, instead of a furniture item for houses or offices.

It is a floor lamp with direct light and its base consists in a parallelepiped of white marble (about 65kg) with rounded edges and corners (without fitting). From the base you can see a metal structure fixed to the marble through a track inside of it and some screw-down holders. This structure, made with three steel profiles with U-section, after a straight part, forms a real arc, which can be adjusted by sliding the profiles on themselves. At the end of the arc there is the light source housing: a dome made up of two parts. A drilled spherical object which prevents from an excessive heating of the bulb socket, and an aluminium ring which is useful for adjusting the position of the spherical object in relation to the adjustment of the arc.

After all these years, no aesthetic or design changes were applied to the lamp, except the different colour of the aluminium spherical object, which was goldish in the first models, and the bulb socket was white. Later they changed the colour of the bulb socket in order to adapt the lamp to safety standards. At the beginning the lamp was available with the base in black marble. Now you can find this model only as reproduction.

This is the most imitated and often plagiarized industrial design object. The most famous case is the legal action Flos-Semeraro, which brought also to adjust some copyright laws. The manufacturing company took legal actions in order to protect the copyrights of the lamp. However, the company was able to use these rights only in case of slavish copying and the misuse of the lamp name.