FLOS Viscontea Cocoon Pendant Lamp
Materials: Metal wire frame. Cocoon resin plastic lampshades. Bakelite E27 socket.
Cord: 120 cm / 47.24”
Height: 49 cm / 19.29”
Width: ∅ 68 cm / 26.77”
Electricity: 1 bulb E27, 1 x 60 watt maximum, 110/220 volt.
Any type of light bulb can be used. Not a specific one preferred.
Period: 1960s, until now – Mid-Century Modern.
Designer: Achille and Pier Gacomo Castiglioni in 1960.
Manufacturer: FLOS Spa, Via Angelo Faini, 2 – 25073 Bovezzo (Brescia), Italy.
Other versions: The FLOS Viscontea cocoon pendant lamp was only made in 1 versions. Other cocoon lamps have different names.
In the German book “Lampen Und Leuchten, Ein Internationaler FormenQuerschnitt” (Lamps and lights, an international cross-section of shapes), written by Gerhard Krohn in 1962, page 145, is said that these lamp series were designed Friedel Wauer and produced by Goldkant Leuchten. But the Viscontea in the book is smaller, it is 45 cm / 17.71”. Friedel Wauer designed many cocoon lamps.
Achille Castiglioni was born in Milan, Italy on 16 February 1918. He was a son of the renowned sculptor Giannino Castiglioni. Achille had two brothers: Livio and Pier Giacomo (nicknamed Popo). They were both architects. Castiglioni studied at the Liceo Classico Giuseppe Parini (Classical high school) in Milan, today named Liceo Parini. He studied classics, the study of classical antiquity.
Achille Castiglioni switched to study of arts at the Liceo Artistico di Brera (artistic high school), also in Milan. Later, in 1937 he went to the faculty of architecture of the Politecnico di Milano, the polytechnic university.
Castiglioni joined the architectural design practice Studio Castiglioni of his two brothers in 1944. Livio left the trio in 1953. Together with his brother Pier Gacomo he designed numerous items. The most well known lamps the duo designed are the Turbino desk lamp for Arteluce and the Arco arc floor lamp for FLOS.
In 1968 Pier Gacomo passed away. After his death, Achille worked alone. From 1969 he taught architectural and design subjects at the Politecnico di Torino (polytechnic university of Turin, Italy).In 1980 he became professor at the Polytechnic university of Milan.
Achille Castiglioni has won 9 “Compasso d′Oro” awards. The designer passed away in Milan on 2 December 2002. Many of Achille Castiglioni’s lighting products are still in production today.
Other lamps the brothers or Achille designed are, among others: the Luminator floor lamp, the Taccia table lamp, the Gatto table lamp, the Lampadina table lamp, the Snoopy table lamp, the Parentesi ceiling/floor lamp, the Toio floor lamp, the Gibigiana desk lamp, the Taraxacum cocoon pendant lamp, the Stylos floor lamp, the Splügen Bräu pendant lamp and the Ventosa lamp. Many other lamps were designed. Several of them are still in production, you can find them on the FLOS website.
FLOS was founded in 1960. The company was born as a small workshop in Merano; as a place for experimenting and researching new materials, styles and functionalities. At a time when Dino Gavina and Cesare Cassina collaborated with an important importer of an innovative polymeric coating (Cocoon) produced in the United States: Arturo Eisenkeil. The Eisenkeil company is still located in Merano (or Meran), South-Tirol, Italy.
However, the first one who used this kind of material is George Nelson in 1947 for his Bubble pendant lamps. The technique had been developed for mothballing naval ships. George Nelson referred to these lamps as “one of those happy accidents which occur all too infrequently in the designer’s experience”.
Friedel Wauer who is credited by FLOS for devising the technology of spraying the material onto iron frames, was inspired by the “self-wrapping” of a silk worm, hence the naming “cocoon”. Wauer founded his own company: Cocoon-Leuchten International. More info about it over here on Vintageinfo.
The seventies were years of great creative and entrepreneurial ferment. The company rapidly grows and opens its first subsidiary in Germany. In 1974 FLOS acquires Arteluce, the company founded by Gino Sarfatti. As result, several models designed by Gino Sarfatti have been incorporated into the range of FLOS products.
In the 1980s a long and exclusive collaboration with Philippe Starck begins, which sheds light on a series of international successes also called cult objects such as the Ara and Miss Sissi table lamps. Numerous collaborations take place with other well-known designers, including Antonio Citterio, Konstantin Grcic, Jasper Morrison and Marc Newson. Other designers that worked for Flos during the years: Achille & Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, Mario Bellini, Sergio Gandini, Patricia Urqoiola, Vincent van Duysen, Nendo, Piero Lissoni, Johanna Grawunder, Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby, Michael Anstassiades, Fabio Lombardo, Marc Sadler and many others.
Perry A. King & Santiago Miranda, Gianfranco Frattini, Bruno Gecchelin, Cini Boeri, Ezio Didone, Paolo Rizzatto, and many others designed for Arteluce after the takeover by FLOS.
In the nineties, FLOS decided to create its own spin-off called Light Contract, a division specialized in the production of professional products and lighting systems for large commercial spaces.
Nowadays FLOS is still one of the leading companies in its sector.