table light


Produzione Privata during the Milan fair

Produzione Privata is the “private production” of Michele De Lucchi. Being one of the world’s greatest living architects, and based in Milan, he has been quite busy recently, as you may imagine!

He is one of the Ambassadors for Expo Milano 2015 (see here) and his Pavilion Zero there won the Wallpaper* Design Award for Best Building Site [sic] (see here)

For the Salone del Mobile Workspace 3.0 pavilions, he has created “The Walk”, dedicated to his vision of the workspace of tomorrow (see here).

In addition, inter alia, he was named A&W Designer of the Year at this year’s IMM Cologne (see here).  

As if that wasn't enough, he has also been entrusted with the creation of “Venice waterfront”, a vast and crucially important new 90,650m2 area at Porto Marghera (i.e. on the mainland, opposite Venice) that is being developed by the Società Italiana per Condotte d'Acqua SpA, to be used for trade fairs, large events, retailing and office spaces (see here).

But, to us, in our little World of Lighting, he is the designer of the iconic Tolomeo task light, and many other important luminaires for Artemide and other brands.

His Produzione Privata allows him to develop designs away from harsh commercial realities, so the collection is for connoisseurs.

He sent us the PDF of the new catalogue yesterday and, well, all I can say at this stage is, go and see the two new pendant lights made of wood, that are playfully derived from architectural references (you’ll see what I mean….), as well as some wonderful introductions from 2014, such as the Chapeau pendant, shown at the top of this post, and the Touché pendant... 

...a design that also makes a super, usefully high, slightly art déco, table light

(that is Michele De Lucchi himself demonstrating how to use it).

The collection is not just made up of lighting, of course. There is the chair shown at the foot of this post, for example, and here is one of the new Marianne vases (the medium sized):

Produzione Privata do not show out at the fair. Instead, come and see the collection on the ground floor of Michele De Lucchi’s studio at Via Varese, 15, to the north of the Brera district – and handy for Corso Como 10!

Michele De Lucchi Milan 2015 details
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Estro's bespoke lighting for luxury hotels and restaurants

Estro are leading specialists in custom lighting (and bathroom accessories) for hotels and restaurants, so they are central to our mission.

We go to them for fully bespoke lights in quantity. They are based in Tuscany, so they deliver all the convenience of: high Italian standards of craftsmanship; ease of communication; short runs and single samples; plus quick deliveries. If necessary, one can fly in to Pisa and be in their factory by lunchtime! And they have proved exemplary in handling aftersales issues promptly, efficiently and cheerfully. In other words, totally different to sourcing in China – which would be irrelevant if Estro's prices were not competitive, but they are. Amazingly so. And they are nice people. ;-)

They have another brand, Luminara, that makes a diverse range of luxury lights that are more suited to public areas and residences, so if you work on such projects, do still come to the Estro’s stand and see what they have to offer.

It is difficult to give an impression of the production of a supplier of custom lighting because of the variety of their production, much of which is dictated by the designs and requirements of the interior designers, rather than by the maker themselves. Estro do have fine, relevant collections in several catalogues — a Classic, a Contemporary and a Luxury one, plus one for bathrooms (lights and accessories), but they are a starting point, really. So what I thought I’d do is show you some pictures of interiors that have Estro lights. They will need no comment from me – you’ll be able to see for yourself what I would point out. And pictures of interiors (and exteriors) are much more interesting than pictures of lights, aren’t they….

Finally, Estro have introduced a third brand, Idèo, for cordless lights, taking advantage of the low power consumption of LEDs. Unlike most others, theirs have a traditional look (the one you can see in the Monte Carlo picture above is a powered version):

They are also available in a bronze finish, as seen here on the table light:

So, Estro is a very important company for anybody involved in specifying for luxury hotels and restaurants!

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FontanaArte 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.FONTANA ARTE

Why learn about FontanaArte?

In my previous post about Cini&Nils, I pointed out that brands can change, so we need to keep you up-to-date with what they are doing. I can think of none that has changed more radically than FontanaArte! And what they have changed to is as notable as what they have changed from. This matters, because theirs is still one of the very finest collections of contemporary lighting, with classic designs in their catalogue from the 1930s and every decade since.

What have they changed from? Strong designs from different designers and periods mean that theirs is a very varied collection, but the one thing in common has always been that they were made of glass. Glass, glass, glass. In fact, FontanaArte was created in 1932 to make glass lighting and furniture: it grew out of the Milanese glass company, Luigi Fontana.  The acquisition of Candle in 1993 gave them a second brand under which they could explore other materials. When the Candle brand name was dropped and the two collections amalgamated, FontanaArte now had some non-glass lights, but the collection was — and triumphantly still is — predominantly glass.

So, imagine the surprise when the stand at Light+Building in April had no glass lights!!! 

Actually it did have one glass light, but it was shut away behind a locked door, like the things in jars in the Salzburg Natural History Museum’s collection that are not suitable for children. But, if you were allowed in, what an exciting discovery there was: the Total Black version of the iconic Fontana, designed by Max Ingrand in 1954, available in all three sizes:

Of course, there is no such thing as black glass, so when the lamps inside are lit (in the base as well as the shade, separately switched), the Fontana Total Black reveals itself to be a wonderful blackcurrant colour:

So what have FontanaArte changed to? Well, if one did not know better, one would assume that the latest collection was from a Scandinavian company. Or, put another way, very, very fashionable!

Look at the colours. This is Cloche, an update of Pudding from 1995. There is a light grey and a dark grey — i.e. bang on the money. There is also a yellow, but it is not a bright Mediterranean yellow: it is darker, dirtier — a northern, urban, mustard yellow.

Igloo also comes in two tones of grey, and shares with Cloche a matt finish. But there is a lot more than that to Igloo. The material it is made of, for example: it has a double shell of self-extinguishing plastic technopolymer. But what is most remarkable is how much you can do with it. There is a single module. Here are nine of them in a row, all pointing downwards:

And here are another nine, this time pointing up and down:

Here is a close-up of four in a square:

As you can see, it is extremely versatile. It is also easy to use. It is, in fact, a modular, self-supporting system of spotlights that, thanks to a series of electromechanical connections, and curves and spacers, allows for the consecutive linking of up to 200 units without the need for any additional power cable! Here are two arrangements of seven hanging vertically:

It takes mains power (no separate power supply to locate) and dimmers are available. Just think how quick and simple installation could be — and how economical!

Vitro is a simple, elegant, very effective design that makes use of new materials.

The body always has a satin opal finish. It is the prismatic diffuser that can be changed: it comes in satin, transparent, chrome and bronze.

Vitro can also be ceiling mounted. So, you see? The look of it, and its name, suggest glass, but though it is from FontanaArte, it is not glass!

Actually, we should not have been so surprised by their move away from glass. There was not much glass in evidence in their 2013 collection, that included the amazing, 64cm high Odeon. This is a new type of luminaire; you have it facing a wall, so that is generates reflected light. It is the beautiful leather upholstery covering it that one sees:

And the body of Yupik is made out of polypropylene foam!

This makes it incredibly lightweight, yet robust, and a practical example of a currently-popular type of light — one that is on a long cable so that it can be hung, stood up, and moved around generally.

Needless to say, such radical and successful designs come from radical and successful studios. Yupik is by Form Us With Love, Vitro by Emmanuel Babled and Odeon is by Studio Klass, as is Igloo. Other achingly fashionable designers with whom FontanaArte are working include Studio Drift and Gamfratesi. So if you want to know what is happening in contemprary lighting design, spend some time on FontanaArte’s stand at lightjunction — for the Scandinavian aesthetic, the colours, the finishes, the materials, the new typologies, the cool designers…! In the process, you’ll also learn about a very practical, useable collection.

The light at the head of this email sums all this up. It is Lunaire by Ferréol Babin. The centre section can be moved in and out like a drawer, altering how the light is cast. Push it in, and the light emerges as a penumbra around the the larger disc. Pull it out and the centre of the larger disc is illuminated:

It comes in various finishes, so besides looking minimal and contemporary as above, it can also look luxurious:

Or mysterious…

You are going to kick yourself if you do not come along to lightjunction to experience these lights for yourself, aren't you!

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Collier Webb's delightful Shitake table light at Decorex

Collier Webb Shitake table light

It is very easy when whizzing around a trade fair to miss the small things (especially if one is 6' 4"). That I did not miss Collier Webb's Shitake table light, in spite of another strong stand from them with great wall lights and pendants, like the Round Odeon Plafonnier...

COLLIER WEBB ROUND-ODEON-PLAFONNIER because of Shitake's strength of personality.

It is 39cm high. The shade is 32cm in diameter and the base Ø18cm. A simple, coherent design, it is nevertheless made up of several contrasting materials: a spun brass shade, a leather covered column and a glass base.

Being Collier Webb, there are lots of options. The one in the picture has red leather and its shade in antique gilt. But many different colours of leather are available and the metal parts can also be in antique silver, dark bronze, antique bronze, antique brass, verdigris, bright nickel -- or custom finished to order.

It is charming, sturdy, full of character. A lady on the television last night reminded us that, in spite of their size, corgis are herding dogs. So this...

corgi also this:

corgi herding cattle

Yes, the Shitake table light reminds one of mushrooms (obviously) and gnomes' homes. But it also reminds me (at least) of the self-confidence of the little corgi. And that's a good thing.

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lightjunction: CTO's show of strength

CTO Braque table light set

 lightjunction, our new fine lighting event, will be collocated with designjunction at the Sorting Office on New Oxford Street during London Design Week, 18-22 September 2013

CTO's display at lightjunction will include three designs,  launched at Maison et Objet in January, that demonstrate their understanding of trends and of the UK market.

Braque, above, is a table light with a sculptural bronze base that recalls the slender, hand finished bronze work of Alberto Giacometti. Also, with its three offset feet, it could be a Martian that has come to visit, waiting patiently on the console table to be taken out for a walk....

CTO Braque table lightCTO's high standards extend to the silk-covered cable. It is sad how often a good light is let down by shoddy details, such as plastic flex and poor quality switches.

CTO Heron floor light set

Whereas the Heron floor-standing reading light is plain, minimalist. It is in a finish that is both traditional and appropriate for a light fitting of this kind. The result is that there is no interior into which it would not fit.

CTO Heron floor lightThe head can be angled and the switch is on the top of it -- i.e. within easy reach (no having to get up to try to find a blob on the cable on the floor to stomp on).

Let's hear it for good reading lights -- allowing the rest of the room to be in soft, dark shadow, with just the light from the flickering flames of the fire adding movement and warmth.

CTO Harvey rectangular pendant  light

Nowadays, most dining tables have to be rectangular, sadly, rather than round. In lighting terms this implies a row of three pendants or a single rectangular pendant. CTO's Harvey is the latter.

Superficially, it is one of a class of dark brass frames that have clear glass, designed to show off the squirrel cage lamps inside. But, hugely popular as these lamps currently are, they are being phased out.

CTO have anticipated this by replacing the clear glass with a bronze tinted polycarbonate that will warm the light coming from whatever light sources we are allowed to use in the future and, by having a ribbed pattern in the polycarbonate, the profile of the lamp is broken up. So however dreary the State-imposed lamp may be, this pendant light will add interest to it.

CTO Harvey rectangular pendant light


In other words, three practical, well-made, carefully designed, well priced lights.

lightjunction 18 22 September 2013



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