Luigi Colani UFO Pendant Lamp
First of all, these pendant lamps are NOT designed by Luigi Colani.
Materials: Orange acrylic with smoked acrylic “windows”. Porcelain socket, later editions have a Bakelite socket.
Cord Length: 60 cm / 23.62’’
Height: 20 cm / 7.80”
Width: ∅ 40 cm / 15.74”
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, 1970s – Mid-Century Modern.
Designer: To be appraised.
Manufacturer: Massive, Mortsel, Kontich and Wommelgem, Belgium.
Other versions: This “Luigi Colani” UFO pendant lamp was made in several colours, models and forms. They were produced for several years. You can find them with porcelain and Bakelite sockets. Sometimes a floor lamp appears. Often said that they are homemade, but it happens a little too regularly.
Despite everyone says that this typical plastic age pendant lamp is designed by Luigi Colani, it is not. It is a pendant lamp made by the Belgian brand Massive. The label is often missing. It was made of paper and after all those years, most of them fell away and were lost.
How the story got into the world is just guesswork, but in the late 1990s there were only a few websites with vintage lamps and a dealer based at the Kloosterstraat in Antwerp, Belgium advertised this lamp as Colani.
In fact this lamp has nothing to do with Luigi Colani whatsoever as confirmed by the owner of the Colani website. Also, this lamp is not mentioned in any catalogue about Colani.
In some pendant lamps the sticker of the Massive company is still present. Often removed to make it more “Colani”. Massive has always had the reputation of being cheap and junk in the Benelux.
This UFO pendant lamp has some similarities with the truck Colani designed. But probably the design was “inspired” by the Futuro house Finnish architect Matti Suuronen created in 1968.
Another Colani hoax is the plastic Drumbo elephant. It is a design by Bernd Diefenbach in 1972 for Munich-based design agency Design Institut GmbH commissioned by the German Dresdner Bank, today named Commerzbank. The elephants are for sale on their website. In an interview from the 2014 Luigi Colani himself denied that he designed it in an interview with a Japanese website. Luigi Colani however designed an elephant for Caparol, a paint company. It is a black elephant with colourful stripes, designed in 1984.
Massive was in origin a bronze foundry and they produced mainly candlesticks, crucifixes and chandeliers in Wilrijk near Antwerp, Belgium. The company was founded in 1926 by Pieter-Jozef De Jaeck. His son Eddy De Jaeck was responsible for the huge expansion of the company in the 1970s. But it were his sons, Piet and Jan De Jaeck who made Massive a true multinational. Thus, they moved production to Eastern Europe and China.
In the 1980s Massive became the leading brand in Europe. In 2002, the brothers left the company to the investment fund CVC Capital Partners, for allegedly more than 250 million euros.
Since 2008 the company is owned by Philips and the name of the shops is changed into Light Gallery.
When the takeover by Philips was announced in November 2006 Massive commercialised more than 10.000 lighting products under brand names such as Massive, TRIO and Lirio Leuchten. The group had about 5.000 employees worldwide and was active in 70 countries.
In The Netherlands these UFO lamps were also sold by Steinhauer Lighting. IKEA sold similar models. IKEA was only active in Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Germany at that time.
Acrylic: often named by its commercial name: Perspex, Plexiglas, Crylux, Acrylite, Lucite, is a thermoplastic. This type of plastic is sometimes called acrylic glass.
Massive label on the porcelain socket
La Maison Futoro – photo Patrik Barret
Professor Luigi Colani, born in Berlin in 1928, is among the pioneers of industrial product design. Since the 1950s, he has been merging aesthetics in creating the articles of daily use that he makes out of plastic. Plastics has made a major contribution to implementing design ideas in cost-efficient mass production. The prime characteristic of Colani’s design are the rounded, organic forms (“bio-morph design”). Luigi Colani died 16 September 2019, he was 91 years old.
Professor Luigi Colani, photo: Rüdiger Buhl, 2005
Many thanks to Patrik Barret for the use of the Futuru photo. And also many thanks to Dirk for the photo of the big collection.