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Artemide's Tolomeo, a history of Italian design

Combining simplicity and innovation, Artemide's Tolomeo lamp is a contemporary, timeless piece, a worthy representative of Italian design.

Michele De Lucchi and Giancarlo Fassina designed an object that is accessible to everyone, in which technology and creativity seem to coexist harmoniously. With its 360-degree rotating head, the lamp can be elevated, lengthened or moved closer so that any corner of the desk is adequately illuminated.

Artemide Tolomeo
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Created by designer Michele de Lucchi and head of Artemide's technical department Giancarlo Fassina in 1986, the Tolomeo became one of the world's best-selling lamps. The idea was to reinterpret the classic pantograph table lamp with a modern twist. It was meant to compete with icons like the Anglepoise and the Naska Loris, made by FontanArte: a rather complicated yet stimulating challenge, which resulted in a truly distinctive and innovative object.

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De Lucchi envisioned the Tolomeo lamp as having a close connection to the industrial world like the Olivetti, so he produced an aluminium prototype, which, however, did not quite work. Giancarlo Fassina thought of replacing the aluminium of the steel cable pulleys with nylon, which was perfect for eliminating friction noises while providing excellent movement.

The conical shape of the lamp head was highly appreciated, but it was necessary to solve some technical problems concerning the insertion of the bulb. It was therefore decided to make the bulb enter the conical surface at a right angle to the conical plane instead of the shear plane.

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Artemide Tolomeo
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On April 12, 1989, the table lamp won the Compasso d'oro ADI award for its reinterpretation of a traditional form, technical excellence and superior performance in domestic lighting. Officially regarded as the office accessory par excellence, Tolomeo made its way into everyday life as a technological piece of furniture with delicate and elegant lines.

In 2017, an exhibition at the Architektursalon von Gerken in Hamburg was dedicated to Michele De Lucchi and the beautiful Artemide Tolomeo lamp. "30 years of Tolomeo - Michele De Lucchi retrospective" is a journey into the designer's relationship with the company, which has always been sensitive to human needs, and into the evolution of an iconic lamp that still remains relevant today, keeping up with constant technological advancements. "I believe that the lamp is by far the best combination of progress in technology with lifestyle, with the idea that every age has its own ambience for life", De Lucchi explains. Tolomeo has always been successful in reinventing and regenerating itself.

Made of polished and anodised aluminium, Tolomeo is characterised by an adjustable head and arms that can be swivelled in every direction, like a large, wide-opening compass. The light source, formerly integrated with incandescent light bulbs, and now equipped with LED bulbs, provides directional and intense lighting. With this upgrade, Tolomeo also takes on a new appearance, offering several shades of white light in its various colour temperatures.

The spring mechanism is installed inside the arm along its entire length and is kept under tension by the cable placed above the body. The minimalist lines blend perfectly with the materials and industrial look envisioned by the designers.

Artemide Tolomeo
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Tolomeo has been designed to be affordable and therefore accessible to everyone. Perfect for the office or the house, it is lightweight, flexible and very resistant. Over the years, these qualities ensured versatility and functionality to the lamp, which can also be clamped onto the table top. It takes up very little space and does not clutter up the worktop, leaving full freedom of movement.

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The name "Tolomeo" was adopted the night before the lamp presentation at the Salone del Mobile. From the list of names that Gismondi came up with, it was the one which would best capture the essence of the lamp. A mathematician and astronomer, Tolomeo was the perfect choice for this rational, almost scientific design.

Artemide Tolomeo
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