The Dome lamp has been designed by an Italian who has worked for years in Spain, one of the protagonists of international architecture. In this interview, she tells the story of this adventure in the field of design.

“Life is but a series of beginnings,” said Madame de Staël. This statement aptly sums up the original genesis of the Dome lamp, a project that paradoxically “came from a defeat,” as its creator Benedetta Tagliabue, one of the most influential women on the international design scene, explains. In this project, she has come to grips with the ‘micro’ dimension of design.

Let’s start at the beginning: how did you get the idea for Dome?
It is a miniature work of architecture that comes from an architectural absence, in a way. It takes its cue from research we conducted in the competition for Padiglione Italia at Expo 2015: we imagined the ‘Tree of Life’ as a sort of tree-dome-plaza that would take form inside the pavilion to represent the spirit, the history, but also the future of our country. We lost the competition by a very small margin, but we didn’t give up on the idea of making the project…

How?
We proposed that the organizers of the Expo make dome-containers based on the design, to replicate as multiple units in the Expo area, to offer the public an example of beautiful, useful and sustainable architecture, which after all was part of the message of the Milan Expo.

Nevertheless, we were only able to make two of them (the ‘Love.it’ pavilion for Copagri, ed.) due to lack of funding. The idea survived, though: it changed its scale, getting smaller, to become a lamp, whose prototype remained on display for a while in our studio in Barcelona…

Then what happened?
Joana Bover, founder and spirit of the Spanish lighting company of the same name, came to see us. She immediately fell in love with the lamp and decided to put it into production, and into her catalogue, under the name Dome: I liked that name a lot, because it is also the name of my son.

In short, you transformed a building that looked like a lamp into a lamp…
Exactly. Joana, with her extensive experience in the field of lighting, was definitely a big help. Together we rethought the proportions, to solve technical problems of production. But we never gave up on the soul of the project, the main idea of experimenting to make a structure in step with the times, sustainable, recyclable. Starting with the use of wood: there are over 170 pieces of it in the structure.

And what is the inspiration behind the dome form?
It’s a trip into the past, through the amazing history of Italian Renaissance architecture. How can we forget the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, or the perfect proportions of the Pantheon in Rome? But it is also a plunge into the future: starting with the utopian constructions of Richard Buckminster Fuller, the dome represents an indispensable theme-manifesto for the new (and visionary) generations of architects.

How did you feel in the role of the product designer?
Great: together with my staff, we had a very good time. In the end, we are artisan-inventors, and shifting from one scale to another can only be a plus. It allows you to be quicker, to see what you have imagined take form faster, without having to wait for years as happens with a museum or a public space…

Dome has already won an Archiproducts Design Award in 2016: are you pleased?
Of course. It’s a good start, considering the fact that it is my first lamp..

Article Laura Ragazzola – Photos Marcela Grassi, Shen Zhonghai and courtesy of Bover