heir names are Snow, Lyndon, Sonora, Atollo and Pascal and they are the most famous and iconic lamps of the over 70 pieces designed by Vico Magistretti for Oluce. We would like to revisit this unique and special thirty-year partnership, one hundred years from the birth of the celebrated Milanese architect and designer, one of the founding fathers of Italian Design, and Oluce, the longest-running of the historical designer lighting companies, which celebrates the 75th anniversary of its founding. It was created immediately after the Second World War in 1945 by Giuseppe Ostuni (the brand’s O comes from the initial of his last name) and acquired in 1973 by Angelo Verderi—led today by his son Antonio. And it would be the arrangement between the elder Verderi and the master of Italian design that brought forth the creation of the most iconic products by Oluce.
The collaboration between the two began in 1968 with architecture, precisely with the project by Vico Magistretti for a building in the heart of Milan in Via Conservatorio—a small street where there is a building designed in 1928 by his father (and where Magistretti would have his studio) and the noble Palazzo Archinto, which one of his ancestors had constructed—a project with great sentimental importance for Vico, which would also mark the beginning of his search for deconstructed geometric forms.
Other projects for Verderi would follow (in Milan and Liguria) in a partnership that worked perfectly and that would almost automatically bring Vico Magistretti into Oluce when Verderi acquired the company five years later.
He would be a partner, art director and principal designer, reorganizing the catalog and designing, starting from the Snow lamp in 1974 to the Piazza San Marco model in 2005, a good 26 families of lamps that were expanded into various versions—floor, table, pendant and wall lamps.
The most well-known of all surely was 1977’s Atollo lamp— a design masterpiece awarded with the Compasso d’Oro in 1979 and an enormous commercial success that continues to this day. These were the years in which Vico Magistretti worked with exacting consistency on a series of pure geometric forms and experimented with their composition and decomposition in a meticulous aesthetic study.
“Simplicity is the most complicated thing in the world”, he said.
Cone, sphere and cylinder alternate, unite or duplicate, giving life to lamps with incredibly surprising simplicity: Snow is a cone, Lyndon a group of spheres, Sonora a half-sphere, Atollo a cylinder, a cone plus a sphere, Pascal a cone plus a cone... in a game that he would have liked to continue forever.
Thirty years of partnership, interrupted by the passing of Vico Magistretti, will be celebrated with exhibitions in Italy and abroad after the forced closure of the last three months. The traveling exhibition “100 years of Vico” for the global network of Italian Culture Institutes will start again as well, where design sketches and some examples of the iconic lamps designed for Oluce will be on display.
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