Arco is one of the finest, beautiful and elegant lamps in the history of lighting. It is one of those objects in which simplicity and rationality lies their extraordinary strength and eternity. Not surprisingly it is part of the permanent collections of Museum Triennale in Milan and MoMA in New York. Since 54 years it furnishes the most elegant homes and most prestigious offices worldwide.
Arco was designed in 1962 by the brothers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, architects and designers that have literally shaped the history of Italian design, for the lighting company Flos.
As told in an interview by Achille Castiglioni given in 1970 to the magazine Ottagono, they were looking for an idea for a lamp that threw the light on the table, but it was not a suspension (and thus did not depend on a fixed point on the ceiling), and unlike all those that already existed, there was no need to go around. They needed something that would leave space around the table and that stay at least a couple of meters away from it, and Arco was perfect for all of it.
The Arco lamp is characterized by a structure that allows you to use the space below it, and that unlike a chandelier, you can easily move.
For the realization they chose materials that were already on the market and easily available. For the stem they used three section of brushed steel, bent and “U” shaped, which worked perfectly and that, sliding one inside the other, created a telescopic rod.
Then there was need of a counterweight, to support the whole. In the first time, Castiglioni brothers thought to make a concrete block, but then they chose, instead, a Carrara marble block.
The Carrara marble block, height 55 cm, with the same weight of the concrete block (65 kg) granted a smaller footprint, in addition to a better finish to lower cost. A through hole with a circular shape, done in marble, made easy, then as now, the movement of the lamp simply by using a broom handle or any other cane. Finally, the edges of the block were beveled, so as to avoid hitting them.
At the end of the Arco put the reflector composed by a dome in pressed polished aluminum, made in two pieces: a perforated cap that prevents the excessive heating of the lamp-holder and an aluminum ring which serves to adjust the position of the curve according to the adjustment of the Arco.
The maximum distance from the base of the reflector is 2.2 meters, while the ride height is 2.5 meters. But the telescopic rod allows for three different combinations, adapting to any environment.
Flos during all these years has never changed Arco, except to the electrical parts and only to adapt them to current standards, both in Italy and abroad. Great effort has been required by the company to protect Arco lamp from the many plagiarism and product copies that since the eighties have begun to appear on the market, until the famous case against Semeraro which led to an amendment of national law and to include the Arco lamp between the artworks. Thank to it, today Arco lamp is protected from those who continue to produce copies and sell them like originals.