From matchstick to LED
Lighting Design by Joe Colombo
The great blooming of Italian design was closely related to the time of the economic boom. As an influential designer Joe Colombo produced lights like Spider, Flash and Coupe. During the economic boom years from 1958 to 1963 especially design played an important role in Italy, because both the domestic market as well as foreign markets could be successfully served. The "Italian line" - formally sophisticated and technologically advanced products - created a visual symbol of success. The light designs of the Italian designers were the expression and the spearhead of the demonstration of a modern approach to technical objects. However, the legendary hero years received a first damper due to the economic recession in the late '60s, albeit the architects and designers managed to maintain the sophisticated image that was just created. Joe Colombo One of the most influential and powerful designers at this time was the painter and sculptor Joe Colombo. He only started to turn to design in 1961. He meticulously outlined his projects with pencil and felt neither as an artist nor as a technician, but as an epistemologist. Many of his works are still being produced to this day; his main themes are flexibility and multi-functionality, which he implemented in furniture, lighting and accessories as part of "integral features" and have retained their validity to this day. Colombo saw himself as a "creatore dell ambiente futuro", as a creator of a future environment; he believed in the trans-formative power of design and technology. Spider, Flash and Coupe Colombo developed the lighting system Spider in 1965, for which he was awarded the Compasso d'Oro and the International Design Award two years later. A coated metal reflector in a U-shape with two openings is attached by means of a newly developed plastic hinge on a chromed metal rod, so that the lamp can be adjusted in height and tilt. Part of the light is channeled upwards through the larger opening, and through the smaller opening - like a slot - runs the shaft. The lamp is designed as table, wall and floor lamp.
One of the advancements of the Spider lamp is the Coupe light by Colombo from 1967. From a comparable round metal base springs back a chrome shaft, but in this case it is wearing a cone shaped metal screen. The Coupe light is designed as a table or floor lamp, and the charm of the lamp originates in the streamlined design of two round shapes as well as the intelligent adjustment of the screen thanks to the rotating plastic joint. The closed top plate lets some light through a narrow slot when the lamp is on.
This effect is also found in the Flash lamp from 1968: Colombo designed the light, which is inspired in its form by a historical flash (and aptly named), both as a vertical table lamp as well as a horizontally mounted reading light. In this case the lamp is held by a chromed metal bracket. The sheet metal or glass screen in the form of a bulb is almost half open and has a razor-thin slot on the back, through which a little light exits to the rear. The glass version, which rests as a standing table lamp on a lacquered metal base, emits both direct and indirect light.