Artemide Re-issues Angelo Mangiarotti’s Lesbo Lamp

Milan born and educated, graduate of the Milan Polytechnic Institute, and member of the Associazone per il Disegno Industriale, designer/architect Angelo Mangiarotti is one part Modernist, one part Internationalist, and one part dyed-in-the-wool Italian. After a stint stateside where he immersed himself in the work of Wright, Gropius, and van der Rohe-teaching, for a spell at the Illinois Institute of Chicago, within a veritable arm's length of Mies' Crown Hall-he returned to Milan and founded a solo practice. Not soon after-and in between larger jobs like the Exhibition Pavilion for Fiera del Mare and the Murlongo Tourist Center-he carved out the time to carve a space for himself in the A&D annals as the author of the Lesbo Table Lamp.

Lesbo Table Lamp. Designed by Angelo Mangiarotti.

Before you go thinking too much about that name, know that Lesbo was concurrent with the Sappho Lamp. Both featured blown glass with a murky, smoky, and ultimately enticing tint, and the names of both are informed by literary history. Sappho was the famed Greek writer and elegist and Lesbos was the isle of her birth circa 620 bc. Though the term "lesbian" is taken from the locale, there's scant historical evidence to determine the particular proclivities of the inhabitants, though most historians agree that women on Lesbos enjoyed greater intellectual freedom than elsewhere-and Sappho herself may have been a religious instructor of some import.

Artemide Re-issues Angelo Mangiarotti's Lesbo Lamp

Artemide Re-issues Angelo Mangiarotti's Lesbo Lamp

In regards to Mangiarotti's hand blown lamp of Murano glass, make of history and conjecture what you will. I suppose one could argue that the lamp is decidedly feminine, markedly sexual. The entire body and diffuser is created of the very same smoked glass, thus lending the piece an air of mystery and subtle obfuscation. The shape is sculptural to be sure: curvaceous and streamlined like the waists of certain Italian women (the Gina Lollobrigida of 1967 comes to mind). Yet the piece also has a futuristic quality that gives it timeless appeal. It's as forward looking now as it was during its 1967 debut.

You can get your very own Lesbo Table Lamp courtesy of manufacturer Artemide, who has re-issued the piece for the second decade of the new millennium, at YLighting.

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