1907: FORTUNY MODA
Artist Mariano Fortuny achieved fame in his lifetime – and many namechecks in the work of Proust – for the frocks
he designed for turn-of-the-century ladies of leisure. He was also a renaissance man, and turned his attention to
luminaire engineering. His floor light was originally a low-glare photographic and theatre product, but it’s still in
demand over a century later as a signature piece.
Barely 27 years old, Achille Castiglioni’s ‘dandelion’
pendant has attained classic status. But its spot at
the top could be short-lived: you’d have to plant a
forest to carbon-offset this baby. The S1 version takes
60 (count ‘em) 40W incandescent lamps while the
larger S2 version requires 120. That’s 4.8k W! And no,
it won’t look so good with LEDs.
1953: A331 BEEHIVE
Alvar Aalto’s classic pendant, which is still in
production with the company he co-founded in
1935, typifies the Scandinavian take on modernism:
functional design but with a human dimension.
As the Finnish architect noted: ‘Form is a mystery
that defies description but brings people pleasure.’
Despite its clean lines, the Beehive emits a warming
glow through the polished brass slots.
Serge Mouille thought the Italian luminaires sweeping
Europe in the 1950s were ‘too complicated’, so he created
his signature, insect-like fittings – now revived by his
widow Gin. ‘ The lamps are like arses or tits; they are made
to be touched,’ said the Frenchman.