Space Age Lights

My new article from Cool Hunting.

The second half of the 20th Century saw design attempting to unite the tension between the function and wonder of daily objects. A new exhibit, “Space Age Lights,” which opened today at La Triennale di Milano Design Museum, shows how lamps and lighting in particular have helped solve this conundrum.

With a collection of often anonymous and never-before-seen lamps, borrowed from individuals who gathered this eye-catching series of objects both in Europe and the U.S., the show offers a rare opportunity to study even the fringes of the era. While technically the Space Age goes from the late ’60s to the early ’70s, its influence extends to various related styles that have developed over the entire century.

Curator Gianluca Sgalippa created an exhibit based on meticulous research comparing each piece with paintings, sculptures, movies and graphics that date back to Futurism, Constructivism and Machinism, including science fiction and fashion icons such as André Courrèges and Pierre Cardin.

The display (conceived by Salvo Bonura) makes the upshot of his exploration clear, as does the show’s subtitle, “Between Pop and the Avant-Garde”—these objects always balance edginess with mass appeal.

The accompanying rich catalogue, in Italian and English, compares these masterpieces from the ’60s to the ’70s with the work of many great (though obscure) authors. “Space Age Lights” runs through 5 September 2010. See more images in the gallery below.