On a walk in Paris in the early 1960s, Italian brothers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni had a light-bulb moment. In the elegant arch of the city’s streetlamps, they found an enduring design solution—a directional light that didn’t require ceiling suspension.
Enter: Arco, a flexible floor lamp that emerged from a hunk of marble and could function over a dining table or as a reading light. No ceiling fittings needed. In 1962 it was released by Italian manufacturer Flos, which has produced it ever since (from $3,695).
The stem, made of three stainless-steel pieces that extend like a telescope, stretches to nearly seven feet wide, allowing the Arco to sit easily out of foot traffic.
“It’s a ceiling lamp without being a ceiling lamp,” explains Giovanna Castiglioni, daughter of Achille.
It became a screen star almost immediately—one arched over a conference table in The Italian Job (1969), two illuminated an office in Diamonds Are Forever (1971). Over the years, the best seller has lit up the homes of tastemakers from Andrea Molteni to Willy Rizzo. “She’s tall and thin,” says interior designer Darren Brown, who used one in a soaring L.A. living room. “And there are few alternatives that bring light to a coffee table.”
The 132-pound Carrara base has beveled, bump-proof corners and a hole that makes the lamp easy to pick up. The aluminum shade is perforated so it does not overheat. Look for these clues if you’re trying to verify the much-copied Arco. Or order the Arco K, a limited, crystal-based edition Flos just released for the lamp’s 60th birthday. Its NFC tag can be scanned to confirm authenticity. But knockoffs usually reveal themselves, says Flos CEO Roberta Silva. “Making a copy is not easy.” usa.flos.com