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Beyond the Surface: Chiara

A distinctively impressive character, donning a hat, reflects a light which envelopes its guests in a canopy of soft, diffused glow.
A distinctively impressive character, donning a hat, reflects a light which envelopes its guests in a canopy of soft, diffused glow.

A distinctively impressive character, donning a hat, reflects a light which envelopes its guests in a canopy of soft, diffused glow. Statuesque and stately, Chiara welcomes anyone lucky enough to experience her to bask in the ambiance of melodious warmth.


In 1969, Italian architect and award-winning designer Mario Bellini introduced this essential floor lamp with the desire to create a luminous atmosphere reminiscent of what one would experience in nature, a light like that which bounces off the clouds and dances through trees, never assailing the eyes directly, making it perfect for reading, reflecting and celebrating.


This design was a study of our emotional responses to light, created from a humble sheet of polished stainless steel, cut and rolled into a cylinder. In a children’s book on design, Bellini explained the shape of Chiara as a “nun-shaped lamp that let’s the light come out of her white hat.” Rather than designing a lamp, Bellini intended to create a lighting system that, though the light stems from an artificial source, it sends that light “back into our surroundings with a certain intelligence and grace.”


Inspired thus by a nun’s wimple and veil, Chiara is imbued with a touch of humor, but more than that, it speaks a sophistication and elegance characteristic of Bellini’s work. Chiara was born from a large slice of cardboard, a surface he sketched and rolled like European origami with a winged shaft at the top of the cylinder tilted at 45 degrees, funneling light in varied directions for a consuming, gentle atmosphere in any room it graced.
This simple sophistication also reflects in its etymology. In Italian, chiaro means “clear.” The clarity of Chiara harkens this word and its many uses, in particular its connotation to “shed light”, as a play with meaning and expression. A self-described fan of linguistics, Bellini took great care in fashioning its name, which is also by chance the name of one of his daughters.

Now, almost 50 years later and in collaboration with Flos, Bellini reimagines Chiara with a new, joyful presentation of diverse sizes and finishes. Modernized with LED lighting that emanates from its base and tenderly illuminates interiors, Chiara broadens innovation with a smaller, lighter adaptation in the form of a table lamp, available as aluminum with an anthracite edge, dark grey with an olive green edge, and pink gold with a red edge.
Bellini takes pleasure in experimentation and focused persistence, and this re-edition of Chiara is a premier illustration of his determination and desire to re-examine the expected. Chiara makes a striking statement even when switched off, with its captivating charm and sculpturesque presence. Available now at Luminaire, we look forward to engaging the public in this unique experience of alluring and innovative design.

August 2021