Colombo 281, the first project Joe Colombo made (with his brother Gianni) for Oluce, is celebrating its 60th birthday.
Created in 1962 and simply known as 281, this innovative lamp was innovative for its time and has been able to remain contemporary. Today it is best known under its nickname Acrilica, in homage to its main material: methacrylate.
Patented in the Thirties and used in lighting since the Fifties, transparent acrylic resin, aka Perspex or plexiglass, revolutionized the concept of lighting with Acrilica through its transformation into an original form. Usually used in a thinly cut or thermoformed leaf, with Oluce this material took on a greater thickness and became a genuine conductor of light.
All of this comes thanks to 281’s sinuous and experimental design. It transports the fluorescent lightbulb’s light, which is contained inside its painted-steel base, along the entire transparent body and onto the head. The result is indirect and diffuse lighting which transforms the lamp into a singular lighting body.
This visionary and revolutionary project brought Acrilica the gold medal at the XXI Triennale di Milano in 1964. And more than half a century later it still is a flawless example of the hybrid approach of Joe Colombo, who has always combined his artistic language with technical experimentation.
Acrilica is not just a beautiful lamp, but a genuine piece of kinetic art. And it remains iconic and capable of surprising us 60 years on.