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Design critics

100 years of Achille Castiglioni_Parentesi

Up and down in brackets

Quality design is simple! And this is also confirmed by “Parentesi“.

An absolute example of minimalism in which everything is stripped of the superfluous and reduced to the essential and necessary. This philosophy is then a confirmation of the consistency of the entire production of Achille Castiglioni. In an interview on Domus 779 of February 1996 Castiglioni said: “Minimalism is not a do nothing because it is more comfortable, formal minimalism is not in itself sufficient, it must correspond to an idea of concept, and it exists from prehistory this tendency to do the minimum, but in an ingenious and efficient way “.

The initial idea of “Parentesi” was drafted by Piero Manzù but he died in 1969 before the lamp was defined. Manzù had imagined the system of operation and had sensed the innovative form/function. An interacting lamp that has different heights depending on the needs. The desire was to have an element, initially a cylindrical box, with a slot for the passage of light, that sliding along a pole could be positioned at different heights and stopped in the chosen position by a screw.

From this moment the master Castiglioni, through a series of evolutions gave the current appearance to Parentesi. Castiglioni decided to replace the auction with a metal cable suspended from the ceiling by means of an expansion hook with metal hole and a cylindrical lead counterweight coated with black rubber. A steel tube, shaped in brackets, runs along the steel cable. Is precisely this deviated form of the tube that determines the friction along the tie rod and allows the position to be locked, otherwise it would tend to slip! The tube moves only if a voluntary external force is applied upwards or downwards, without intervention it maintains the position without any clamping system. On the tube is then invested a small rubber sleeve that remains in position without screws on which is mounted a second rubber sleeve that contains the lamp holder that can rotate freely allowing you to orientate the light beam at will. The light source is a simple lamp with Edison attachment and equipped with a silver coating on the back to direct the light without external reflectors.

The result is an original hybrid, the possibility of having as many lamps as possible in one solution: suspension but also floor lamp, adjustable but also applique, something never seen that’s why it bacome an icon of Italian lighting and design!
A simple and ingenious system, with few component elements: a steel braided cable, a nautical cord, a steel tube, a lead weight coated with a black elestometer, two sleeves, a lamp holder and a 150 watt bulb and “Parentesi” is ready!

Produced since 1971 by Flos, with tube in black, white, red, nickel and golden colors, today it is also available in a dimmer version.

What is missing today of Parentesi and its initial version, is its original packaging with which it was sold. A transparent plastic packaging, realized with the molding technique in which each element seemed to be vacuum-packed, a perfectly visible and embedded assembly kit. This package, consisting of two mirrored shells, a transparent and a white base easily transportable through two side handles obtained in the package itself.

Even the packaging was part of the project, already constituting a project by itself! It would be nice to be able to buy Parentesi again like that! Who knows Flos do not think to propose it again, maybe for the 50th anniversary …
we look confident