Along with Eero Aarnio’s Bubble Chair and Verner Panton’s graphic textile patterns, The Nesso Table Lamp by Artemide remains a quintessential symbol of the 1960’s, a glossy, playful reminder of an era when industrial design was as much a part of the counter-cultural movement as go-go boots and peace symbols. But, unlike most things that arrive with expiration dates, the Nesso Table Lamp’s irresistible, monochromatic form remains as beguiling today as it did in 1965, the year Giancarlo Mattioli’s sensuous, mushroom-shaped table lamp won a competition sponsored by two venerable names in Italian design: lighting manufacturer Artemide and Domus, the design and architecture magazine founded by Gio Ponti.
Nesso’s instantly iconic shape—beautifully contoured, dimpled lampshade (said to be inspired by a woman’s navel) and gently flared base—was as dramatic as it was simple, its single-color molded resin profile lending it the kind of visual elegance and sculptural panache destined to be noticed by museums and consumers alike. Emblematic of a decade that thumbed its nose at tradition, it’s little wonder that Nesso’s arrival ignited the imagination: it was like nothing that had been seen before. Yet, the true wonder is that nearly half a century later, it remains like nothing we’ve seen since.