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Monday 11 Jul 2016

The evolution of an iconic project: Pio Manzù´s original idea of creating a "light source that can slide vertically from floor to ceiling and rotate 360 degrees on its axis" was adapted by Achille Castiglioni after his friend´s early death in 1969. A beautiful illustration reveals the painstaking process of refinement which transformed the first schematic concepts into the final product. The Parentesi lamp was launched by Flos in 1972 and has been in continuous production every since. 

Forty years later, much has changed. The world of lighting has undergone a fundamental shift from conventional bulbs to a variety of new lighting technologies which in themselves are creating new opportunities for the design and manufacturing of lamps.

When Piero Gandini, director of Flos, showed me first samples of a thin LED panel based on computer screen technology it made me realize just how big a paradigm shift had happened. Designing a lamp is no longer limited to working around a given bulb. Today, it means designing the actual light source itself. This made me think of the Parentesi as it had always celebrated the bulb in the most direct and beautiful way. Would it be possible to rethink the Parentesi lamp once more, passing the baton of Pio Manzù and Achille Castiglioni into yet another future?

The incandescent bulb is now a flat disc. The handle for moving the lamp up and down the cable incorporates the electronic engine which drives the LEDs. The weight is cone shaped and easier to install. Only the small ceiling rose stays exactly as it´s always been, a beautifully shaped piece of spun metal, designed by Achille Castiglioni for the iconic Parentesi lamp.