Cini&Nils at lightjunction

Our fine lighting event, lightjunction, taking place as part of designjunction during the London Design Festival (17-21 September), has a very specific purpose. It is to increase specifiers’ awareness and understanding of high quality, relevant suppliers of decorative lighting. I'm highlighting some exhibitors in these posts, to give an idea of how the brands were chosen.CINI&NILS

Why learn about Cini&Nils?

Because brands can change. You think you know what they do, but they can develop in new directions. That is the case with Cini&Nils. Theirs seemed to be the purist of decorative lighting collections. Every model fulfilled a specific lighting requirement, or overcame a particular lighting problem. They were designed to meet that need in the best possible way.

The result was very efficient lighting, that also looked good because Form Followed Function.  The approach inevitably led to innovation. For example, theirs was the first mains-powered track system, the Tenso. Still available, still as elegant and versatile as ever, and still with the wide range of light bodies that can be used with it, 2014 saw the addition of the Tensoled:

The Tenso system allows lights to be put where otherwise they could not go: under a vault or a ceiling with frescos, or across a void:

Visit their stand at lightjunction to see the full range of possibilities presented by the Tenso system, and by its small brother, the miniTenso.

But now Cini&Nils are adding to their portfolio purely decorative designs (i.e. they are not created to meet a specific lighting requirement), though they still display an intellectual rigour.

One of the most spectacular is their FormaLa:

What you are seeing is a flexible strip that has LEDs on one side. You can curve it as you like:

Light fittings? Or Art…?

The concept is simple: its realization was not. Obviously, as the strip is bent, one side is stretched and the other side is compressed. Since it can be bent either way, both sides must be able to expand and contract. So a lot of research and development had to go into finding materials that could handle the stresses. Such installations can cover a lot of wall, spectacularly yet economically, creating a major impact, so you’ll want to discuss with them how you can use it.

Assolo explores what can be done with a circle, if one thinks beyond the standard horizontal ring pendant. What if one hung the rings vertically…

…or attached them to a wall, projecting outwards?

They found that they had a minimal, clean fitting — which created fantastic, large patterns. Such a simple way to articulate a plain wall or a ceiling:

There is even an outdoor version!

Having exploited (biggish) circles, Cini&Nils then decided to explore what could be done with (smallish) cubes. The result was the clever Cubismo:

There are two versions…


…that can be combined together to make larger installations.

The lower part is away from the wall and has the lamp behind it. The upper part, being flush to the wall, acts as the reflector. This, combined with the three angled sides of each of the cubes, results in striking chiaroscuro effects:

You can have any RAL colour for a quantity of fifteen or more.

But Cini&NilsCubismo is better seen  than described – another reason to visit their stand at lightjunction!

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Milan 2013: Cini&Nils 2.0

Cini&Nils FormaLa wall light set As will become clear from these post-Milan 2013 posts, companies are responding to the current markets, which are difficult, and changing fast, in different ways. It is not always predictable who will respond in a good way, but we will be celebrating some who are.

Milan-based Cini&Nils is one of them. They are purists. they make a light fitting when such a light fitting is necessary. The requirement defines the luminaire -- how it functions, what it looks like, what it is made of. They make them very well. And there is space for beautiful detailing -- look at a particular favourite of ours, the Gradi Scrivania, for example:

Cini&Nils gradi scrivania table task lightAs a result, they have inspired passionate advocacy from the architects, lighting designers and interior designers who have understood them. This approach has also resulted in their being trail blazers, as the logic of a design has taken them where no-one has gone before -- the first 230V cable track lighting, for example.

The trouble is that most people choose a light by what it looks like, not by what it does. So Cini&Nils is reinventing itself (hence Cini&Nils 2.0) as it creates new designs that explore what is possible with LEDs.

For example, look at the picture at the head of this post. It is a composition made up from FormaLa, a flexible strip that has LEDs on one side.

Cini&Nils FormaLa wall light

You can curve it as you like. It will project light from one side, to contrast with the dark on the other.

Cini&Nils FormaLa wall light shapes

The result is bang on trend -- modules which allow dramatic effects over wide areas of wall and ceiling, depending upon the number and placing of the modules used. It will be available in four lengths -- from 138cm to 540cm.

Actually, it is bang on another trend as well -- lights which cast dramatic light effects on the surfaces around them, a trend that is also demonstrated by Naica, but with a different (random, ethereal) type of pattern:

Naica consists of 57 methacrylate rods with a square cross section arranged in a chequerboard pattern, perpendicular to the wall. The pattern in the image above is real, as is proved by this image of Naica in a real room:

Cini&Nils Naica wall light set

Of course, Naica's pattern may be too exuberant. What if you would like something more tightly disciplined? Like this, on a wall?

Cini&Nils Assolo as a wall light set

Or this, on a ceiling?

Cini&Nils Assolo wall ceiling light composition

Assolo is a simple idea -- a Ø20cm ring at right angles to the surface (wall or ceiling), with one 16W LED mounted shining back onto the surface. You can never look directly at it, so there is no glare). Have a look at this close-up picture:

Cini&Nils Assolo wall light ceiling light

Then, to show how ornamental they are prepared to be, here is Collier! How decorative is this?!

Cini&Nils Collier arrangement

Well, the answer is very decorative, of course (even when it is off).

But, being Cini&Nils, it is also clever -- a lot of thought has gone into it.

It is also modular. You start with one Ø32cm ring:

Cini&Nils Collier uno pendant light

Then you can keep adding more rings, one at a time (sort of). Here is one with three rings:

Cini&Nils Collier tre pendant light

There are two light sources. One shines down from the bottom,casting direct light onto the table underneath. The other creates diffused radiant light by shining through the rings, each of which is made up of 20 little methacrylate cubes.

A Cubist Caboche...?

So, whilst remaining true to the principles that underpin their heritage, Cini&Nils are greeting the new world of vanishing lighting retailers...smaller trends (modular, wall patterns) with creativity, originality and courage.

Cini&Nils are excited by light. So are Catellani & Smith. How many others are...?


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