1. Home
  2. Design Culture
  3. Objects
  4. Pipistrello: the life of an iconic lamp
| Designbest editorial staff


lamp is not just a lighting device, it is possibly the only object in the home which has such an intimate relation with its environment. These were exactly Gaetana Aulenti's thoughts. With major contributions in both interior design and architecture, she is said to be one of the most iconic Italian designers of all time. Known simply by her nickname, Gae caused a great stir, especially in the sixties, when she defied all modern conventions.

In 1965, Gae started sketching ideas for the Pipistrello lamp, her most unconventional piece which would become, in years to follow, a true design icon. Jewel in her crown, Pipistrello is a melting pot of different ideas and references. Its name is the Italian for bat and its silhouette is inspired by exotic plants. In fact, when you look at this lamp for a split-second, it is a lot like a palm tree. Pipistrello captures all the stylistic flair of this talented designer: a bold design choice with a functional soul.

Gae Aulenti is an eclectic thinker who liked to shape form and mould volumes, giving birth to a diverse range of functional solutions. She was independent and didn't give much weight to the opinion of her colleagues and in those years her world was a man's world.  “This is a job for men, but I won't stop”, Gae was known to have said many times over while she was sketching her ideas. This is how she came up with Pipistrello. Gae was also deeply inspired by the Art Nouveau moment, constantly reworking her ideas, turning them from simple concepts into true innovation. Pipistrello doesn't just have methacrylate “bat wings” it also has a “giraffe neck”.

In fact, thanks to its telescopic neck, which grows by 20 cm, this is a highly versatile piece going from a table lamp to a floor lamp. A real stroke of genius. Since it was first brought into production, more than half a century ago, Pipistrello has found its place in homes all over the world. It is still as relevant now as it was then. Bight, radiant and practically immortal. 

share on: