The roots of Italian lighting manufacturing company Flos can be traced to 1959. That is when Arturo Eisenkeil of Merano, Italy, began to look for new applications for a spray-on plastic coating he was importing from the United States. In the early 1960s, Eisenkeil had an auspicious meeting with two designer-entrepreneurs, Cesare Cassina (1909-1979) and Dino Gavina (1922-2007). Cassina was well versed in the vernacular of design, having founded his eponymous manufacturing company—often credited with introducing industrial design to Italy—along with his brother Umberto in 1927. Like Cassina, Gavina was also a design manufacturing impresario, having founded the Dino Gavina company in the 1950s and its subsidiary Gavina SpA in 1960. The three came together to launch Flos in Merano, Italy in 1962.
Flos’s mission was to revolutionize the lighting industry by exploiting new materials, starting with Eisenkeil’s “cocoon floss” polyamide. In the early years of Flos, design was overseen first by Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, followed by his brother Achille and Tobia Scarpa, and then Scarpa’s wife, Afra. The resulting products were intriguingly futuristic looking, such as the Castiglionis’ Viscontea Lamp (1960), Taraxacum Chandelier (1960), and Gato Table Light (1960), as well as the Scarpas’ Fantasma Floor Lamp (1960s). The effect of the cocoon allowed for a soft, ambient glow.
Other signature Flos pieces include the classic Arco Lamp (1962) by the Castiglioni brothers; the Parentesi Lamp (1971) by Achille Castiglioni and Pio Manzu, which was the first piece in the Flos collection to receive the Compasso d’Oro Award in 1979; the shaded Romeo Moon Table Lamp (1995) and Archimoon Soft Task Lamp (1998) by Philippe Starck; the portable work light May Day (1999) by Konstantin Grcic; and the opal glass Glo-Ball collection (1999) by Jasper Morrison. Other Flos collaborators include Michael Anastassiades, Barber Osgerby, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Antonio Citterio, Ron Gilad, Marco Pezzolo, Paolo Rizzatto, Marc Sadler, Patricia Urquiola, Marcel Wanders, and Sebastian Wrong.
In 1964, the company moved to Brescia under the direction of Sergio Gandini. In the 1970s, Flos bought Arteluce, a well-known lighting manufacturer formerly led by Gino Sarfatti. In 1999, Gandini passed away, leaving Flos to his son Piero. In 2005, Flos acquired the Spanish architectural lighting brand Antares. In 2014, a significant portion of the company was sold to Investindustrial, which continues to support CEO Piero Gandini and Flos. Today, Flos offers a range of residential, commercial, and custom-made lighting products.
An ongoing dedication to innovation has ensured Flos a place in design history. Additionally, the brand continues to reap accolades for its collaborative legacy, working with iconic, award-winning designers. Flos designs can be found in museums around the world, including the permanent collection of the MoMA in New York and the Triennale Design Museum in Milan.