Cover The Oluce Atollo lamp consists of simple geometric forms, namely a cone, cylinder and dome Image: Courtesy of Oluce

Designed by Vico Magistretti, the Oluce Atollo table lamp is seen as an elegant classic. Here, we explore the history and appeal of this sleek lighting piece.

A cone, a cylinder, and a dome: the Oluce Atollo lamp might be one of the most revolutionary lighting designs in history, but its structure consists of surprisingly simple geometric forms. Yet, the contemporary composition lends the lamp a timeless silhouette with an enduring appeal.

Owing to its versatility, the lamp can be found nearly everywhere—study rooms, cosy nooks, and coffee tables. Rapper G-Eazy opted to decorate his sideboard in his dining area with a glossy, black piece, while Singaporean fashion maven Willabelle Ong flaunts hers in her living room. 

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Often hailed as an icon of Italian design, the Atollo lamp lights up a room with its bold and decorative silhouette. The structure of this table lamp is often marveled at; the dome is expertly engineered to connect to the top of the cone so that it seemingly hovers above the fixture on its own.

The masterful arrangement and skilled construction created an easily recognisable design. Quietly charming, the lamp emits soft, diffused light.

The Oluce Atollo lamp is the brainchild of Italian industrial designer and architect Vico Magistretti. Born in Milan to a family of architects, he was introduced to the world of design and architecture from a young age. Magistretti is widely noted as one of the founding fathers of Italian design; his work ranging from furniture design to architecture was both experiential and simplistic in form.

The designer stuck to a strict design philosophy, noting that there was no excuse for bad design. He had a penchant for streamlining his designs with geometric combinations, and once said “I love geometric shapes. I love to make essential things that look like nothing.”

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In 1977, Magistretti was determined to create a lamp that sleekly combined form and function to produce a simple yet formal solution. With the Atollo lamp, the trio of shapes were first chosen for their functionality. The cylindrical support provided a sturdy base, while the cone connects to the spherical dome through a thin element. When the lamp is switched on, the diffused light is projected over the cone-shaped segment and simultaneously onto the cylindrical base.

Expressing a modern and understated elegance, it didn’t take long before the Atollo lamp was awarded Italy’s highest honor in design, The Compasso d’Oro, in 1979. The award—Magistretti’s second—further highlighted the popularity and appeal of the iconic structure.

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In January 2020, on the centenary of the designer’s birth, the Vico Magistretti Foundation released a digital archive online. Consisting of technical drawings, sketches, photos, and documents, the archive lent insight into Magistretti’s mind when he was creating the lamp. 

Today, the award-winning lamp can be found dotted across the globe in museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Die Neue Sammlung in Munich. The lamp is still in production by Oluce, where it’s available in three different sizes and various finishes. A true testament of refined Italian design, the lamp integrates seamlessly into any interior with its classic structure that’s able to withstand the test of time.