“Eclisse” – the light for philosophers and thieves

Milan-born designer Vico Magistretti (1920-2006) was inspired to create the “Eclisse” lamp while on the subway, in 1965. He was reading Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables”, and had just reached the point where it mentions “An old dark-lantern of copper, worthy of Diogenes turned Cartouche”.

Hugo’s imagination had merged the most renowned Greek cynic philosopher and the most famous pickpocket in Paris from the 1600-1700s. Magistretti’s creativity would add to that the idea of a starry sky, watching over the endless research of both “heroes” – the former after the truth in man… the latter just after his wallet.

The result of this visionary short-circuit was “Eclisse”, a table lamp with both diffuse and direct light, designed for the furniture company Artemide.

Made up of three hemispheres – a fixed exterior one, a mobile inner one, and the base – “Eclisse” allows you to cover its inner, luminescent sphere by rotating the lamp. The light is gradually dimmed, and can even be completely obscured – producing the effect of a total eclipse.

Magistretti’s lamp has become a symbol of Italian design in the world.  It was awarded the “Compasso d’oro” in 1967, the year it was manufactured and launched on the market, and is part of the collections of the most important museums on the planet (including the MoMa in New York). Not to mention, it is still available for sale after almost fifty years.

An eclipse, to light philosophers’ way and provide thieves with obscurity. And one that lasts forever.

December 17, 2013