Timeless Design

February 2, 2023

Flos releases an iconic Castiglione design with an updated, sophisticated material to celebrate its 60th anniversary.

In 1962, designers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglione created the iconic Arco floor lamp, the same year design brand Flos was established. Synonymous with Italian design, the lamp became one of the most well-recognised, imitated and referenced pieces of Italian design. Sixty years later, Flos celebrates the lamp’s anniversary with the release of a limited edition lead-free crystal base.

The original design took inspiration from street lights – a simple structure that allows directional light without the construction limitations of installing a chandelier. A telescopic, satin-finished stainless steel arch allowed light to be diffused through a height-adjustable reflector finished in pressed, polished aluminium and protected with a clear varnish. A 60kg white Carrara marble base anchored the structure, and a dimmer switch allowed for light intensity adjustability.

At first glance, a small hole in the base appears to be a contemporary design feature. However, it has a practical purpose as an access point for a broom handle, or something similar, to aid in lifting and transporting the lamp and its heavy base.

To celebrate the lamp’s 40th anniversary, Flos released a limited edition Arco with a black marble base. And again, for its 50th anniversary, the brand paid tribute to the piece, releasing it in an LED version.

Arco K, the most recent limited edition version for the lamp’s 60th anniversary, sees its base transformed into a material the team deemed more appropriate to the duo’s original design intentions. The aim was for the base to draw the viewer’s gaze from the arch to its origin and structure that supports it.

“Over time, the marble of the lamp base has been associated with an idea of ​​preciousness and luxury that the designers did not actually have in mind: marble was indeed selected due to its heaviness and sturdiness and its capacity to withstand the metal arch and cap. At the time, it was the easiest material to find and the most logical to use,” explains Flos.

“The new choice fell on a material and a procedure that would not have been possible 60 years ago: a special lead-free crystal, which, thanks to its transparency, reveals the mechanics of the lamp and explains its operation and principle.

“The material is recyclable, heavy, refined and technical at the same time: a lead-free crystal, commonly used for optical prisms in labs, laser generators, and small gadgets that require 3D lasers inside engraving,” continues Flos. “The challenge was to move from this small scale [machinery] to a large one, while still maintaining the same high precision in the delivery.

“The high precision of the shape that was created makes the piece difficult to replicate by plagiarists because it requires a long working process.

“A spiral spring has been added around the fixing pin to ensure that the internal glass is protected from accidental scratches. And finally, the lower part of the block rests on a black mat, invisible to the naked eye thanks to the play of reflections created in the K9 crystal block.

“A floor lamp that illuminates a dining table like a chandelier, Arco is a crossover between traditional types. It is an object that symbolises expressive freedom in interiors, in line with the social and cultural revolution that was taking place in the years when it was designed.”

The Arco K is being released in a limited number of 2022 lamps, available online via pre-booking due to the nature of time it takes to create each lamp. Flos has also developed a particular encrypted NFC traceability system, which guarantees collectors the originality and uniqueness of each item number.

“While observing street lamps, Achille and Pier Giacomo began to consider how the shape of the arch made it possible to transport light from above onto objects. And then to imagine a lamp capable of accomplishing this task by freeing itself from the fixed ceiling fixture”, explain design curators Calvi and Brambilla. “Arco is a gesture, a space that provides a light that drops on things with kindness and that originates from a block that can be freely transported: in essence these were the great revolutions that this lamp brought to the history of design.”