The Castiglioni Brothers’ Taccia, the “Mercedes of Lamps,” Is Still Cruising Decades Later

Taccia, their iconic bowl light, was masterfully designed in 1958
Pierre Giacomo and Achille Castiglioni with Taccia.
Pierre Giacomo (left) and Achille Castiglioni with Taccia.Photo: Ugo Mulas.

Milanese industrial designers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni liked to reduce an idea to the very basics. So in 1958, the premise for the brothers’ new table lamp was radically simple: to turn a ceiling fixture upside down, like a salad bowl, and set it on a base.

Brothers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni’s Taccia lamp for Flos, shown in architect Lúcio Rosato’s historic home in Lanciano, Italy.

Photo: Helenio Barbetta.

It took some experimentation to make it work. Their original concept for a plastic bowl melted under the intense heat of the incandescent bulb. Instead, they remade it in blown Murano glass and placed it on a column-like cylinder. That aluminum base component, similar to a car radiator cover, prevented overheating from the light. The bowl, which wasn’t fixed to the base, could be turned in any direction, its light reflected by a concave aluminum disc fitted on top like a lid.

A pair of Taccia lamps flank the sofa in architect Alex Cochrane’s London home.

Photo: Romas Foord

Named Taccia, the piece was put into production by Italian brand Flos in 1962. In a 1970 interview, Achille deemed it “the Mercedes of lamps,” but not for its apparent opulence. Rather, he explained, “we certainly did not have prestige in mind when we designed it; we just wanted to create a cooling surface that would disperse heat.” It was utilitarian indeed: “You can put it everywhere—in a kitchen, on a desk, or in a bathroom,” says Giovanna Castiglioni, Achille’s daughter, who grew up with a Taccia in the living room.

Taccia at Fondazione Achille Castiglioni in Milan.

Photo: Fondazione Achille Castiglioni.

Over the decades, the lamp proved its versatility, showing up in the iconic postmodern Rome apartment of architects Patrizio Paris and Patrizia Pietrogrande, on a sleek yacht by Joanne de Guardiola, and flanking the sofa in fashion designer Nicolas Ghesquière’s superchic Paris pad. In 2016, thanks to the reduced heat emission of LED lights, Flos launched a version like the Castiglioni brothers originally envisioned—in plastic. This year they introduced matte white—now available alongside the typical black, silver, and bronze.

A yacht designed by Joanne de Guardiola.

Photo: William Waldron.

“The Castiglioni brothers were kings of engineering, crea-tivity, and playfulness,” says Fanny Bauer Grung, of the Milan-based firm Quincoces-Dragò & Partners. “And Taccia is a perfect mix of them all.” From $1,600;