The Futuristic Brilliance of Joe Colombo’s Kartell Lamp


The Kartell lamp designed by Joe Colombo in the 1960s represents a significant innovation and creativity in modern industrial design. Joe Colombo was one of the most influential designers of his time, and the Kartell lamp was his masterpiece. In this article, we will delve into the history of Joe Colombo’s Kartell lamp and analyze the innovative design features that made it such a revolutionary product.

Joe Colombo’s Background and Inspiration

Joe Colombo was born in Milan, Italy, in 1930. He studied painting and sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan, but his interest soon shifted to industrial design. Colombo was fascinated by the potential of plastics in design and wanted to explore their possibilities.

The Kartell lamp was one of Colombo’s early designs. He was inspired by the futuristic look of the Apollo space capsules and wanted to create a lamp that reflected the optimism of the space age. Colombo also wanted to create a lamp that was affordable and accessible to everyone, not just the wealthy elite.

The Design of the Kartell Lamp

The Kartell lamp is made of polycarbonate, a material that was relatively new in the 1960s. Colombo chose polycarbonate because of its durability and transparency. He wanted the lamp to be lightweight and easily transportable, and polycarbonate allowed him to achieve this.

The lamp has a distinctive shape, with a round base and a curved stem that leads to a conical shade. The shade is made of two parts, a translucent upper part that diffuses the light and a solid lower part that contains the bulb. The design of the shade allows the lamp to provide both ambient and directed light, making it versatile and functional.

One of the most innovative features of the Kartell lamp is the ability to adjust the height and angle of the shade. The shade is attached to the stem with a swivel joint that allows it to be adjusted to different positions. This flexibility makes the lamp adaptable to different settings and user preferences.

The Impact of the Kartell Lamp

The Kartell lamp was a huge success when it was launched in 1967. It won several awards, including the prestigious Compasso d’Oro, and was exhibited in major design museums around the world. The lamp was a symbol of the optimism and creativity of the 1960s, and it became an icon of modern design.

The success of the Kartell lamp also helped to establish Kartell as a major player in the global design industry. Kartell, a company founded in 1949, was initially a producer of plastic household items, but the success of the Kartell lamp helped to transform it into a design brand that is now synonymous with innovation and creativity.

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