Monday, January 26, 2009

Spyros ashtray | Eleonore Peduzzi Riva | Artemide, Italy | 1969

Eleonore Peduzzi Riva SpyrosEleonore Peduzzi Riva
Artemide, Italy, 1969

Spyros ashtray My Spyros :)

Eleonore Peduzzi Riva was born in 1939. With Ueli Berger, Heinz Ulrich, and Klaus Vogt she designed the DS-600 sofa. She developed an objet d’arte of stunning form with the Spyros ashtray created for Artemide in 1969. It is as beautiful as the former as the latter. It is less often called Spiros, even though this is how the label on the underside of the object reads. The box the Spyros comes in reads “Spyros.” Two different boxes are shown below.

Spyros box

Image source. This Spyros (white with black ball and original packaging at €180 = $230) and other items are for sale at the eBay store of ODCOLLECTION. Thanks for the pic!

Spyros ashtray and box Image source. This one is for sale, by the way for $295.

Eleonore Peduzzi Riva also designed the Vacuna lamp for Artemide in 1969. To see what else Artemide was up to in the 1960s and early 1970s, check out this exhibit. She also designed the Molla lamp for Candle in 1971. She was an artist and designer at Vistosi during the 1970's. In 1972 she exhibited at the XXXVI Venice Biennale.

The Spyros is a melamine plastic form, 21.5 by 21.5 cm on a side and 3.5 cm tall. It consists of a spiral, hence the name, that a ball is free to roll down to the center of the square. Little feet protect what you set it on. The bottom side of the Spyros is shown below.

Spyros ashtray underside Underside of the Spyros ashtray.

Designmatcher describes the Spyros by saying…

In many ways the Spyros is not the most functional of the ashtrays. However it captures the mood of the late '60s. This design allows the consumer to purchase a smoking accessory that looks nothing like a traditional ashtray, with no indentations to hold cigarettes. In fact, the beauty of this design is its enigmatic appearance; is it a sculpture, a desk accessory, or an ashtray? The Spryos is all of these things, and its success lies in this engagement of the user.

The Spyros was produced in five colors: white, yellow, orange, olive green, and black. The standard ball is black and approximately 6.5 cm in diameter. But often a ball of contrasting color to the base is present. I’ve seen an orange ball (was this issued by Artemide?! because orange plastic rocks), a white ball, and some that are impressed with advertising logos.

Spyros ball Image source

A well received favorite and and probably also the most sought after ashtray by collectors, the Spyros is a rare item. I’ve been outbid numerous times on eBay for them. Prices are generally in the $200 to 300 range for good condition items with ball.

Note: broken video link fixed 1/30/11. Cue the round of applause. You let the ball go and it's all a little clumsy at the end but entertaining nonetheless. Seldom do you get to participate in plastic design. This just so happens to be one of the times you can. It would have been more impressive me bashing out a cigarette with the ball but if you think I’m ruining my Spyros you’ve got another thing coming.

Spyros promotion

Spyros promotion Spyros promotion

Above: The Spyros featured prominently in Artemide literature of the time.

Below: Spyros imprint.  Orange, image source eBay user dedalo1972.

Spyros imprint, black

Spyros imprint, orange

Selected Bibliography

Philippe Decelle & Diane Hennebert & Pierre Loze, L'Utopie Du Tout Plastique 1960 - 1973, Edition Fondation pour l'architecture, 1994, p.50.


Vercelloni, I. T. (1999). The sixties: Rediscovered design. Farmingdale, NY: Artemide.

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Anonymous said...

how much is a vintage one worth? orange colour, with and without the black ball

pieterjan said...

I paid 20€ (28$) for mine, mint white, black ball. I always go for the cheapest you can get...

Unknown said...

Artemide lights are well known for its quality and design

Unknown said...

I love your attention to detail

Anonymous said...

I have one to sell! yellow Perfecgt condotion who wants to buy

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