Sunday, August 14, 2011

Acrilica table lamp (model 281) | Joe Colombo | Oluce, Italy | 1962

Joe Cesare Colombo was a versatile Italian painter, sculptor, architect, and industrial designer. He studied painting and sculpture in Milan at the Accademia di Belle Arte di Brera until 1949 before transferring to Milan Polytechnic to study architecture, which he did until 1954.

Joe Colombo

Up to 1958 Joe Colombo worked solely as an abstract expressionist painter and sculptor. From 1959, after his father’s death, Joe Colombo took over the family electrical appliance business, notably introducing new methods of production and materials. In 1962 Joe Colombo opened an interior decoration and industrial design practice of his own in Milan.

The Colombo brothers (subsequently only Joe pursued the design of objects, while Gianni devoted himself to the fine arts) were seeking a receptive environment for their creativity: Oluce.  In 1962 Joe Colombo collaborated with his brother Gianni on developing Acrilica. Acrilica was inspired by the lighting associated with a hotel project in Sardinia where a counter-ceiling was used to realize a particular mode of indirect lighting. 

oluce logo

Oluce was established in 1945 by Giuseppe Ostuni, making Oluce the oldest Italian lighting design company that is still active today. Prior to World War II, there existed only Gino Sarfatti’s Arteluce, which closed its doors in the late 90s.  In 1948, both Azucena and Lamperti were founded, followed by Arredoluce and Stilnovo in 1950. For many years it was chiefly Arteluce, Azucena and Oluce that dominated the Italian scene, creating a hub for the designers, strongly engaged first in the reconstruction and later in the birth of series production, who animated the Milanese forum: Vittoriano Viganò and BBPR, Gigi Caccia Dominioni and Ignazio Gardella, Marco Zanuso and Joe Colombo.

History of the Oluce company introduced by Antonio Verderi.   

The Acrilica table lamp was awarded the Medaglia d’Oro (gold medal) at the XIII Triennale, where Joe Colombo also won two silver medals for the Combi-Center and the Mini-Kitchen, shown below.  Acrilica established Joe Colombo as one of the great designers of the day.  He is well represented at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and other museums worldwide.


Combi-center (Bernini, 1963).  Image source.

Mini-kitchen (Reissued by Boffi).  Image source.

Joe Colombo won the Compasso d’Oro (the first for Oluce) in 1967 for the Spider group and in 1970 for the Candyzionatore air conditioner.  Spider is a single lighting fixture designed to be a horizontal spot light.  In a variety of geometries the lamp is suitable to be employed in different situations (home or office) and on different supports (table, floor, wall, or ceiling), its geometric versatility resulted in the novel concept of a “family” of lamps.

Spider table lamp

Spider table lamp (Oluce, 1965).  Image source.
Candyzionatore air conditioner

Candyzionatore air conditioner (Candy
Elettrodomestici srl, 1969). Image source.

Joe Colombo won the International design award for the Coupé lamp and the Spring lamp.

Coupé table lamp

Coupé table lamp (model 3321) (Oluce, 1967).  Image sourceMoMA.
Spring table lamp

Spring table lamp (Oluce, 1967).  Image sourceMoMA.

Joe Colombo was well represented at the exhibition “Italy: the New Domestic Landscape” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, including:

4801 armchair (plywood)  
4860 stacking chair (ABS)  
Poker card table (wood, stainless steel)  
Square Plastic System storage cubes (ABS)  
Spider wall lamp (metal) 
Tube chair (PVC, polyurethane) 
Additional System chair (polyurethane) 
Multichair chair (polyurethane) 
Minikitchen (wood, stainless steel)

Acrilica was first included in the 1962 Oluce catalog.  The lamp realizes indirect lighting through internal reflection of light through a curved piece of transparent PMMA (acrylic).  Through this curve, light appears to climb.

Acrilica lamp, variety not put into productionAcrilica lamp, variety not put into production

A different version of the Acrilica lamp, not put into production.  Image source:  designboom.

The innovative Acrilica lamp consists of an elongated foot with the source of light, to which a transparent, C-shaped sheet of acrylic resin, bent upward, is attached to conduct the light from the foot. In the Acrilica table lamp, Joe Colombo masterfully used both the thermoplastic and optical properties of acrylic resin to create a beautiful lamp that relies on a “light piping” effect similar to what could be expected in a fiber optic arrangement.

Acrilica lamp, white baseAcrilica lamp, black base

Acrilica lamp with a white base (above) and black base (below).  Image source:  Daily Icon.

The base of the lamp is in white or black metal and the entire lamp is 9 1/4 by 9 1/2 by 9” (23.5 by 24.1 by 22.9 cm) in size.  For an Oluce video showcasing the Acrilica lamp, click here.

Acrilica table lamp technical information

Technical data for the Acrilica table lamp.  Image source.


Retrieved July 24, 2011 from http://www.oluce.com/company/index.php?lang=us&menu=1&submenu=1

Retrieved July 24, 2011 from http://www.kettererkunst.com/bio/joe-colombo-1930.shtml

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