light is the substance for expressing new ideas and illuminating unexplored emotions. For over fifty years Flos has been crafting objects of light and, with its extensive Interior Lighting
and Outdoor Lighting
collections, shedding brightness on generations of dreams. Trusting intuition has always allowed Flos to create products that became icons, establishing new typologies and innovative archetypes. The company's high technical and technological knowledge, blended with the creativity and experience of many masters of designs, keeps inspiring new emerging talents.
The company writes the future, reading its own past and expressing the present, in a continuity of positive challenges and bold choices that have shaped the its image and identity. Products from the Flos catalogue define, time and again, the fine line that divides and unites art and design, craftsmanship and industry, the limited edition and larger scale manufacturing, an individual’s idea and the collective imagination. One of the key element is a love of experimentation which opens new ways and leads to the use of revolutionary materials - as in the past with Cocoon
- and hi-tech solutions, today represented by OLEDs and eco-sustainable materials.
Flos: from the early years to the 1990s
The prehistory of Flos beginns sometimes in the 1950s when Dino Gavina, a firm individualist who was all but obsessed with the idea that Italy should become the homeland of a new interior, decided to bring a breath of change to the Italians’ way of living. The epiphany moment came when Dino Gavina and Cesare Cassina, later the founders of the company, met the inventor and small-scale producer Arturo Eisenkeil. The cocoon technique used by Eisenkeil – a resin sprayed onto a metal frame – seemed an ideal starting point. More or less in the same time falls the beginning of the long-lasting collaboration with the designers Afra and Tobia Scarpa and the Castiglioni brothers, a liaison that would yield a whole range of very succesful lighting objects. The true national and international breakthrough, however, came with the decision to shift from the artistic approach of Dino Gavina to the more entrepreneurial style of Sergio Gandini. Gandini entered the company in the 60s with a vision that combined astute management and the capacity to see a demand for products that was not yet satisfied. Already under his direction the company's headquarter moved from Merano to Brescia.
In 1972 many Flos products appeared in the exposition "Italy, the New Domestic Landscape" and were subsequently selected by MoMA to be included in the museum's permanent design collection, especially the projects by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni. For a company that had actually been active in the market for only a few years, at that time it marked an incredibly quick consecration of their work and an important recognition of the modern artistic dignity present in the company's products. In 1978, for the first time Flos took part in Euroluce, a new event at the Milan Trade Fair inspired by the Furniture Fair model, finally offering the lighting sector the deserved space and visibility. In the meantime the company inaugurated a new branch office in Germany and acquired Arteluce, a long-established Italian lighting manufacturer.
Many ensuing best-sellers sustained Flos for almost 30 years. Even so, the company felt that a major change had become urgent. The transformation began with the arrival of Piero Gandini, son of Sergio Gandini, towards the end of the '80s. From the beginning Piero Gandini persisted on a close creative collaboration with renowed designers, and time proved him right. Numerous groundbreaking designs, penned by Achille Catiglioni, consolidate the Flos's position as a brand leader. The real strategic change, however, came with the arrival of Philippe Starck, whose first project for Flos was Arà
, a curious pivoting, horn-shaped lamp that reflected the fable-like imagery of a designer soon destined to achieve immense popularity. This overwhelming success was repeated with Miss Sissi
, by the same designer.
Flos: from the 90s to this day
In many regards the 2.0 version of Flos promoted by Piero Gandini was very similar to the first. It had the same attention to top quality; it carried on with the search for iconic objects and it strove to strike the perfect balance between manual work done by skilled artisans and technologically-advanced processes for mass production. But the company's innovative energy is starting to find another way of expression in a new creative language. This shift in diction is apt to cause a stir that, perhaps, became first palpable in the results of collaborations with Marc Newson and Jasper Morrisson. Indeed, with his Glo-Ball
collection the latter provided a formidable example of the company's new direction.
Also playing a role in the commercial success of this and other second-generation products, was the approach of extending the range of a single model to a number of variations, each designed for specific purposes. The inherent complexity of "systems" was offset by their versatility and their ability to be recognised as components of a single "family", by which Flos defined a specific set of products.
In 1998, the Compasso d'Oro was awarded to a "safety lamp", the May Day Light
by Konstantin Grcic, another new cosmopolitan talent. It was the ultimate sign that times had changed, and a veritable revolution in lighthing technology was already becoming apparent: LED. Gandini, attracted by the possibility of creating a truly new industry, decided to combine his long experience of working with designers and the production capacity of the company. With "lighting for architecture" a new chapter was opened and the outline of a double track for the possible identity of Flos's new industrial culture thus began assume shape. On one hand research was applied to spaces with very precise requirements, defined by an architectural design in which artificial lighting featured as a genuine building component; on the other there was the free research entrusted to the poetic intuition of designers, who invented or redesigned lamps as icons of contemporary style for increasingly individual and unpredictable domestic spaces.
Arco, Parentesi and other Flos icons
Throughout its history, Flos has presented a number of products that became true icons of lighting design. Although it impossible to mention them all, we have to name at least some of the best known. When talking about Flos, one has to think of Arco
, the famous floor lamp designed by the Castiglioni brothers in 1962. Arco is still one of the most representative pieces of contemporary design and, thanks to its sleek lines and its timeless style, one of the most coveted and sold objects in the history of design.
, awarded with the Copasso d'Oro 1979, is another piece that made history: an ingenious lamp consisting of a steel profile that runs on a cable pulled to one side by a weight and attached to the ceiling on the other. Further we have to mention Taccia
, a highly innovative lamp that became an object of desire for many design lovers: the light source is in fact hidden in the base to prevent direct glare. And, last but not least, Toio
, a surrealistic object that merges a car headlight and fishing rod into a truely unique lighting object.
Buying Flos lamps on Archiproducts
Furnish your home with amazing lamps and lighting objects that shaped the history of Italian design: discover Flos lighting
, now for sale in our e-store, and choose your favourite piece of design.