Light Music

Atelier Oï’s fixtures for Foscarini hint at their sonically inspired origins.

Successful design teams work in harmony, and the Swiss-based architecture firm Atelier Oï, whose three principals happen also to be musicians, functions a bit like a string quartet. For an art installation at the Swiss Cultural Center, in Milan, earlier this year, the group decided to combine its interests in music and design to create a series of lamps that could be played like instruments. Each sculptural light was made of aluminum wires and had a distinctive shape. When jostled like a wind chime, each generated its own sound; when played in tandem, they produced layered melodies.

The display caught the eye (and ear) of Italian manufacturer Fos­carini, which asked the designers if they would simplify the concept for commercial production. While the name of the lamps, Allegro, alludes to their musical origins, the new smaller versions no longer make sound. “The end product is only the metallic structure,” says Aurel Aebi, one-third of Atelier Oï. “When you build a product for the market, there are some things you can’t do, and you realize that perhaps it’s not so good to have a lamp that makes noise.” Here he tells us more about the designs, now available in the United States (

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