When I think of a task lamp, I either think of those old timey desk lamps our parents and grandparents used, or I think of the desk lamp of the future, which often times looks exactly like the Kelvin LED lamp, designed by Antonio Citterio with Toan Nguyen for FLOS. It’s very futuristic looking, like a robot arm reaching out to help you illuminate just about anything you need to see, read or do.
I was able to get in touch with both Antonio Citterio and Piero Gandini, CEO of FLOS, to talk about the design and its innovations. Timeless design doesn’t always have to play it safe… in fact, like many of the classic mid-century modern pieces, timeless design can push the boundaries of form (as with Togo and Tip Ton), or manufacturing (as we saw with the Swan chair).
Mr. Gandini says “the Kelvin LED lamp is a very important step that can really testify how a new technology can drive to new languages. The interpretation of the possible new languages… is really what makes the difference.”
He goes on to explain how FLOS was able to incorporate this new technology into a design that is selling well—in other words, the Kelvin is on the road to becoming a classic. Instead of designing strange and unique objects to house the LEDs or plug LEDs into their existing units, they decided to work with Antonio Citterio to sit down and take time to design the right object to best utilize this new technology. “When a new technology comes it is normal to be surprised, it is normal not to immediately have all the necessary tools to interpret what can be done. But I think that if you take time, if you really put a real effort and if you really go with strong talent, you can come to a different place.”
Working with FLOS, Mr. Citterio says, is like working with people who share his vision and design language. As a designer, he concentrated solely on the product and not the market, but with a more broad concentration on the strategy by which he can define himself and his work.
A good designer should be able to create products that will last, that will not be discarded quickly by the user.
The design of the lamp itself is innovative, yet not over-designed—with a lot of thought behind its functionality. Beyond the flat, square design of the head, which perfectly houses the LEDs, the adjustable arm allows you to place the lamp above or below your eye level and move the head as needed. You can also touch it to control the level of light needed. But unlike other task lamps, Kelvin takes it a step further with its base options: choose from a desk clamp, a simple flat tabletop base or even a wall mount. The functional options of the lamp show the forethought that went into its design. Instead of racing to release the first LED lamp, Mr. Citterio and FLOS sat down to consider the multiple uses of the lamp and the end user’s needs. And, to top it all off, there is also a floor and miniature tabletop version.
“With Kelvin, my intent was to start with a spring system and add an essential design. The project takes its design cue from a clamp, which becomes the base, and which explicitly evokes the image of a technical object, with an engineering matrix, inspired by bridges and tensile structures,” explained Mr. Citterio, who uses this lamp at his own desk.
“The technical-functional solutions used to control the movements of the lamp and its adjustment in a safe and easy manner, and to fix it in a specific position, required accurate study. The construction details—from springs to clamps—were left visible on purpose to communicate a mood that is technological but careful about production processes. The result is an object with a ‘smooth’ yet domestic design because of the outer wire, the use of aluminum as a structural material with a transparent liquid varnish surface treatment and the LED diffuser protection screen in polycarbonate molded by injection.”
Watch this video to see how the Kelvin LED lamp is made: