When a chandelier is created specifically for a cartography museum, it has to be interesting, eye-catching, and elemental—like a good map (think of an old one with sea monsters and scaled creatures peering over the edge of the horizon beneath a galaxy of stars and moons, perhaps scripted with such exotic locales as Oriental Sea and Bay of Bartolomeo). Designer Enzo Catellani of the Italian lighting firm Catellani & Smith had to fulfill such a request for the Museo della Cartografia di Stato in Rome.
Fil de Fer. Designed by Enzo Catellani.
He was asked for an enormous chandelier “ethereal with many lights. A chandelier symbolizing a universe.” What Catellani delivered inspired an entire collection of pendant lighting, both indoor and outdoor, as well as a wall-mounted light: the Fil de Fer Series, which is itself part of the Out Collection. The orbs vary in size from a small 30 cm diameter to a grandiose 120 centimeters. Catellani was able to construct these illuminated worlds using malleable wire. Halogen lights interspersed inside the ball radiate a soft glow that is more interesting emanating from within a complicated crossroads of braided aluminum. The branch-like shapes of the wires look like capillary cross-sections to me, but to Catellani they appear like “rolling bushes, blown by the wind in the Mexican desert.” If you prefer a sconce, then opt for the wall-mounted Fil de Fer, available in a 30 or 40-centimeter diameter. Make a night sky in your own home by assembling a group of these in a random pattern.
I love the celestial feel of the scattered bulbs glowing from within the tooled twines of aluminum. Catellani has made me a universe I can behold all at once, standing beneath its shimmering radiance. Like a full moon on an ancient map, Fil de Fer enchants and dazzles, and maybe even guides us to somewhere beyond.