Founded in Merano in 1962 to produce beautiful, modern lighting, Flos are renowned for their high-quality approach to lamp design and production. Design Curators Fabio Calvi and Paolo Brambilla talk about the brand’s history, designs, and what’s in store for the future.
Describe the brand in three words.
Contemporary, technological, and emotional.
Can you tell us the story of Flos?
Flos (meaning “flower” in Latin) blossomed thanks to a group of entrepreneurs who were already in the world of furniture design, which was emerging in those years; they felt the need for a brand specialising in contemporary lighting fixtures.
From the very beginning, Flos used a patented material, Cocoon (invented in the United States for industrial uses) to create some innovative lamps. Later, the company became property of the Gandini family, and in fifty years Flos has never stopped growing and collecting successes.
Only recently it became part of the Design Holding. Today, Flos is led by a steering committee made up of the CEO, the Marketing and Communications Manager, the Research and Development departments, and the Design Curators.
Flos was founded 1962. What’s the secret to its longevity and success?
Inventing brand-new types of lamps. Arco, for example, is a floor lamp from 1962 that is used instead of a suspension lamp. It was designed to illuminate a table where you cannot hang a ceiling light. This concept applies to many other models that we call crossovers.
There’s also a great attention to technological updating and refinement of construction solutions. For example, Light Shadow is a very powerful light source that is hardly visible and Tracking Magnet is a revolutionary track that’s very easy to use.
What’s been a highlight for the brand so far, and can you tell us one of your future ambitions?
In the future, we want to add one more element: sustainability. We practice this already as all new products are designed to be disassembled at the end of their life to easily separate the different materials and recycle them correctly. Additionally, it is easier to replace the light sources in case of failure, including LEDs to extend the lifespan of the product.
Has there been a time when a design risk didn’t pay off?
Yes, one product was too far ahead of its time and its potential wasn’t fully understood. However, this is not a good reason to stop, it’s precisely where the spirit of Flos lies - the ability to surprise with risky solutions.
How long does the design and manufacturing process take to create a Flos light?
It really depends on the complexity of a project. On average, it takes eighteen months from the first idea to when the product is in stores, but it can take up to three years. The engineering and testing process is much more complex than one might think.
What’s your favourite design from the whole collection and why?
What’s the difference between the way you approach the design of decorative lighting versus architectural lighting?
In contemporary life, living spaces and workspaces are increasingly merging. Most of the places we find ourselves are hybrid spaces, so there is less and less distinction between decorative and technical products. This is especially true for Flos, which has always loved working with these crossovers. Oblique, for example, is a desk lamp designed for the office, but it can also be used as a bedside lamp.
Can you tell us somewhere unexpected that Flos lighting has been installed, and where you would love to see it?
There are many projects by the Flos bespoke department within the best architecture of the world, such as the Pinault Foundation in Paris. Also, it's always fun to see a Flos lamp in a ‘007 movie, especially in the room of the villain on duty, who often has even more taste than James Bond himself!
What tips do you have for anyone embarking on a lighting plan for a room in their home?
A good combination of general and accent lighting is needed for an interior. If you get the chance, get a lighting designer involved. Light is much more important than any other element as it can completely transform a space.
What’s an important thing to remember when choosing outdoor lighting?
Try to minimise glare for visual comfort and to reduce light pollution, this also means you won’t interfere with the biorhythm of plants and animals. For example, Pointbreak is a bollard designed to illuminate a space whilst keeping well hidden.
What do you think is going to be the next big revolution in lighting?
A combination of visual comfort and low environmental impact paired with ease of use and beauty.