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Timeless and clever Parentesi lamp remains a modern-day classic

The Parentesi Lamp by Flos is the result of a 1971 collaboration between Achille Castiglioni and Pio Manzù. With a fully adjustable spotlight, this floor lamp can be directed towards feature elements in a room, such as artwork, or positioned as desired for task work be it reading or sewing. The light comes with a dimmer to allow users to adjust brightness accordingly. The spotlight itself is attached to a slender metal standing 58 centimetres in height.  


The Parentesi was named for the parenthesis symbol, visually referencing the nickel-plated shaped tube suspended on a floor-to-ceiling steel cable. This tube allows the lamp head to move vertically along the nearly 4-meter in length cable to achieve its preferred height and direction of lighting. The head fixture is fabricated with an injection-moulded black elastomer and comes equipped with a switch. 

Achille Castiglioni explains that PioManzù had the original idea for Parentesi explaining that his design partner thought up the idea of a fixed vertical boom and a cylindrical box with a slot for the light, which went up and down and could be stopped with a screw. He ultimately replaced the boom with a metal chord that, when bent, creates friction and enables the lamp to be in position without the need for any screws. 

The two Italian designs have enjoyed a long and fruitful collaboration with manufacturer Flos. Many of their playful and innovative design concepts have proven timeless over the decades and, including the Parentesi Lamp, are still in production today. A winner of the prestigious Compasso d’Oro award, the Parentesi design has opened the door for several later imitation models.


Certainly, this very versatile lamp with exposed bulb and metal/plastic construction is an iconic example of early industrial chic. The light requires one E27/150W bulb and in terms of colour is available in black, nickel, or red.


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