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Oluce

Oluce

Meanwhile, in 1963, Marco Zanuso created one of Oluce's forgotten masterpieces in production since 1965: the model 275 table lamp with large white perspex swivel shade on an enamelled metal base. And it was once again a new material, the ''Fresnel Lens'' pressed glass, which inspired Joe Colombo's 1964/66 family of weatherproof outdoor ''Fresnel'' lights, with a painted metal base and shade retained by steel clips. This was followed in 1965 by the ''Spider'' group, in which a single lighting fixture, designed for a special horizontal spot light, was assembled � thanks to a melamine joint - in a variety of situations (home/office) and on different supports (table/floor/wall/ceiling), thus coining the concept of a ''family'' of lamps. The stamped plate finished with white, black, orange or brown baking paint, sliding along a polished chrome stem, seemed a foretaste of the future. In 1967 it won the first ''Compasso d'oro'' award for Oluce, and in 1972 it appeared at the unforgettable New York exhibition ''Italy: the new domestic landscape''.

But in 1967 Colombo had already moved on, creating his ''Coupé'', a curved stem of considerable size supporting an elegant semi-cylindrical shade, now exhibited at the MoMa in New York. In 1968 the Coupé light won the ''International Design Award'' of Chicago's American Institute of Interior Designers. Finally, 1970 saw the birth of the ''Halogen light'', which went into production in 1972, one year after the premature death of Joe Colombo, and was therefore named ''Colombo'' in his honour. The first indoor halogen light to appear on the market, it became an unsurpassed icon of a design that is both functional and contemporary. In the meantime, a new and important era had begun at Oluce, coinciding with the transfer of ownership from Ostuni to the Verderi family, and dominated by one of the great masters of Italian design: Vico Magistretti. For many years, Magistretti was art director and chief designer of the company, conferring his unmistakable stamp and a legacy of worldwide recognition. Kuta, Lester, Nara, Idomeneo, Pascal, Dim, Sonora, Snow, and especially Atollo - all became names that instantly called to mind the corresponding product. Atollo even became a sort of template, a graphic silhouette that immediately rendered the concept of a ''lamp''.

Atollo - essentially inimitable though copied around the world, winner of the ''Compasso d'oro'' in 1979, featured in the permanent collections of all the leading design and decorative arts museums - has thus become much more than just a lamp: it is a legend. Its secret probably lies in the geometry of its forms: the cone on the cylinder, all surmounted by the hemisphere. A luminous sculpture to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be taken away. In the meantime, Magistretti's presence protected Oluce from superficial forays into postmodernism, as confirmed by the various designs by Bruno Gecchelin included in the catalogue.

At the start of the '90s, it was the rigour of the emergent Swiss designer Hannes Wettstein which characterised the company's style. Some examples are Wettstein's ''Soirée'' model, a slender assembly of aluminium and makrofol, as well as Riccardo Dalisi's ironically provocative ''Sister'' and ''Zefiro'' models. Finally, in 1995 Oluce took a different tack under the art direction of Marco Romanelli, which bolstered its international success and the collection's critical acclaim. The new formula put the focus on expressing highly diverse personal idioms, and in particular those of leading contemporary designers, such as the Englishman Sebastian Bergne, the Swiss Hans Peter Weidmann, and the Italians Laudani&Romanelli. In 1997 the ''Estela'' lamp was the word's first industrially-produced object designed by the brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana, poetic narrators of their far-away Brazil. In 2000, the ''Nuvola'' series marked the start of Toni Cordero's collaboration with Oluce. One of the leading Italian architects of his generation, Cordero imposed his vision through the use of utterly disruptive and unconventional forms. Nuvola has been his last, wonderful project.

In 2001 white Murano glass stones and transparent perspex reeds populated the Oluce booth at Euroluce. Designed by Laudani&Romanelli and Ferdi Giardini, they proposed a way of doing design that exceeds its function and turns itself into poetry. The search for authoritative international voices that can articulate types of illumination following the oluce philosophy has continued down this path. This small group of designers was then enhanced by the addition of american Tim Power, fi nn Harri Koskinen and italian Carlo Colombo. For Oluce, the new millennium opens with new partnerships and new energy. On the one hand it explores territories beyond the confi nes of light: with ''Nerolia'', Ferdi Giardini proposes a lamp-fragrance diffuser; ''Ibiza'' is Francesco Rota's offering of an outdoor device that contains a sophisticated loudspeaker; Laudani&Romanelli have designed a ''Cand-led'', an artificial candle that can be recharged like a mobile phone, thereby eliminating the need to plug it in; and Harri Koskinen, the young Finn who managed to re-launch Nordic style on the international design stage, in his first attempt beyond his native border, has dreamed up ''Lamppu'', a reading lamp that features a moveable head that can also be used as a fl ashlight. Each of these projects follows an important path of research and innovation.

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