George Nelson Bubble lamps
The company that specialized in these lamps was Cocoon-Leuchten International ( Goldkant-Leuchten) from Germany.
The Raak lamp is made in the same period many other companies started using this kind of material in lighting. This lamp appears for the first time in a catalogue in 1962.
One of the most famous lamps is the “Gatto” table lamp designed by Achille & Pier Giacomo Castiglioni in 1960. The Gatto is still for sale in design shops. More info on the Flos website. (external links open in a new window)
In the late 1950s Arturo Eisenkeil brought the technique to Italy and together with Dino Gavina, Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, Sergio Biliotti, Carlo and Tobia Scarpa, Ignazio Gardella, to name the most important designers, the Flos company was born. The first cocoon lights were named: Gatto, Taraxacum and Viscontea by the Castiglioni brothers and Fantasma by Tobia Scarpa.
Links (external links open in a new window)
Other cocoon lights on Vintageinfo
Goldkant Leuchten Cocoon Pendant Lamp
Raak catalogues on Vintageinfo
Other Raak lamps on Vintageinfo
Lamps in the movies on Vintageinfo
Val Saint Lambert lamps on Vintageinfo
Peill + Putzler lamps on Vintageinfo
Other IKEA lamps on Vintageinfo
IKEA sold a similar lamp, as you can see in the catalogue from 1966.
The Raak Chrysaline pendant lamp or a similar lamp by Goldkant Leuchten was used as a prop in the 1974 Anglo-German espionage thriller film The Odessa File. An adaptation of the novel The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth. The film is set in 1963. The film stars Jon Voight, Maximilian Schell and Maria Schell.
Raak Chrysaline Pendant Lamp
Materials: Metal (iron) frame and plastic “Cocoon”, Bakelite socket.
Cord Length: 65 cm / 25.59”
Height: 45 cm / 17.71”
Width: ∅ 45 cm / 17.71”
Electricity: 1 bulb E27, 1 x 150 watt maximum, 110/220 volt.
Any type of light bulb can be used, preferably a white/opaque bulb.
Period: 1960s – Mid-Century Modern.
Designer: To be appraised.
Manufacturer: Raak, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Other versions: Also made in a smaller version of 35 cm / 13.77”, The B-1058 model.
A strange thing is that the B-1057 label also is used for another Raak pendant lamp, as you can see over here on Vintageinfo.
Many people think these lamps are made of pig’s bladder. They are not, of course.
In all probability Goldkant-Leuchten, Friedel Wauer GmbH & Co KG from Germany produced this lamp for Raak. 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 silkworm, hence the naming “cocoon”.
The first one who used this kind of material is George Nelson in 1947 for his Bubble Hanging Lights. The technique was been developed for mothballing naval ships. George Nelson referred to these lights as “one of those happy accidents which occur all too infrequently in the designer’s experience”.
The Dutch company “Raak Amsterdam” was founded in 1954 by Carel O.Lockhorn (18 June 1923 – 6 October 2004), a previous employee of Philips Lighting Eindhoven. Raak, which means “to hit” in Dutch, implies design which precisely “hits the nail on the head”.
Raak is best known for their organic modern design of the 1960s and 1970s which combined glass & metals for a sophisticated futuristic style.
The light company collaborated with several international designers and architects, including Bertrand Balas, Evert Jelle Jelles, Frank Ligtelijn, Ger Vos, Jan Jasper Fayer, Li Helo, Maija-Liisa Komulainen, Nan Platvoet, Nanny Still-Mackinney, Nico Kooi, Sergio Asti, Tapio Wirkala, Willem van Oyen and many others.
Raak Amsterdam also collaborated with other companies. They worked with the German Peill & Putzler for the Raak Globe lamps. Peill & Putzler produced the glass.
They also sold lamps made by Peill & Putzler, such as a pendant lamp designed by Aloys Ferdinand Gangkofner. For the Raak Discus the glass was made by Bega, also a German company. For the Night Club and Stalactites lamps a cooperation with the Belgian Val Saint Lambert was undertaken in the late 1950s.
Carel Lockhorn sold the company in 1974 to ITT but remained a director until 1977. In 1980 Raak merged with BIS Lighting from Aalsmeer, also in The Netherlands and was renamed into BisRaak. In 1986 the Raak company became independent again. The company got a business appearance and only the colors white, black and gray were still processed.
In 1999, Raak merged with Artilite B.V. and Indoor B.V. and became CLA: Centrum voor Lichtarchitectuur B.V. in Drachten (Center for Light Architecture). The Center for Lighting Architecture was founded by Egbert Keen. The company was declared bankrupt on 19-05-2011.
Dutch text from the Raak catalogue in 1962:
Zwevende ballonnen …. chrysaline
Chrysaline, een modern soepel materiaal met een warm en levend karakter. Dooraderd met nietige nerven als het blad van plataan en populier. Gevoelig van structuur, maar ongevoelig voor vele invloeden van buitenaf:
onbreekbaar, afwasbaar, sterk en elastisch.
Chrysaline verliest echter wel zijn blanke pracht onder invloed van teveel tabaksrook!
Daarom zijn deze ballonnen (alleen of in trossen) bij uitstek geschikt voor gebruik in slaapkamers, kinderkamers, trapportalen en hoge vestibules.
B-1057 45 cm. voor lamp 150W – 45 gulden
B-1058 35 cm. voor lamp 100W – 45 gulden
Translated text from the original catalogue:
Floating balloons …. chrysaline
Chrysaline, a modern flexible material with a warm and lively character. Veined with tiny veins like the leaf of the plane tree and the cottonwood. Delicate in texture, but resistant to many external influences:
unbreakable, washable, strong and elastic.
Chrysaline loses its white splendor under the influence of too much tobacco smoke!
Therefore, these balloons (alone or in bunches) are ideal for use in bedrooms, children’s rooms, staircases and high vestibules.
B-1057 45 cm. Lamp for 150W – 45 guilders
B-1058 35 cm. Lamp for 100W – 45 guilders
Picture taken from L’ Art Ménager, edition 1963 – Paul Breton – published by Flammarion, Paris, France. Website: Editions Flammarion – This exellent book is off course no longer available but with a little luck you can find it for a nice price on the electronic highway.