• Bar Stool Guy

Coderch lamp: A lantern made of wooden slats and three shades of light.

José Antonio Coderch (Barcelona, 1913-84) is one of the Spanish architects credited with introducing the modern movement to Spain. However, he has gone down in history for a tiny piece of design: the Disa lamp, also known as the Coderch lamp. Although it is a modest and straightforward work, it is still praised and admired sixty years after its creation in 1954. Coderch was also a perfectionist who never ceased in his efforts to improve things, adding details to unsuspected limits.

Obsession with light. Coderch was interested in light in all its dimensions: that of the sun, that of street lamps, and, of course, the role of the lamp and the light it emits in a domestic environment. In particular, he was concerned about the problems generated by the lampshade and the diffusion of the light emitted by the incandescent bulb. Solving that transition was a crucial issue in the design process of this lamp.

Coderch was looking for a lamp that would give a warm light to one of his houses, something different from what the market at the time offered. Part of the research in the design of this lamp was based on sending copies to artists and architects he respected and admired. Whoever received the light was obliged to assemble the pieces, thus gaining access to its internal logic. Picasso was one of them, and it is known that he returned a postcard with the silhouette of the Disa drawn on it, telling him that it was the most beautiful modern lamp in the world. The design. It looks like a flattened pumpkin, made from six fragile sheets of bentwood (Oregon pine) that are joined in a ring at the top and bottom. To this outer casing was added another layer of six other sheets of smaller width and length further inside, closer to the bulb, to prevent the bulb from being insight and thus more precisely shade the intensity of the light; this generates an interesting play of shadows by superimposing transparent, translucent and opaque areas. Three flat metal rods made of enameled steel hold this framework in place by separating the two rings. The piece evokes the shape of fairground lanterns in a modern and effective way.

Surprise. Interestingly, due to the design of overlapping wooden slats, various shades of color emerge: from the whitish of the direct light of the spotlight to the red-orange resulting from the clarity of the pine on the outer leaves, through the bright yellow of the intermediate slats. Origins and awards. The design was presented in 1958 in Zurich by Max Bill, a great designer, and Bauhaus collaborator. In 1962 it won the Delta de Oro ADI/FAD award, and in 1964, the National Design Award of the Argentine Republic. Other versions. Due to some criticisms about the low light that the lamp let through, a variant replaces the wooden leaves with others of translucent white methacrylate. Coderch said of the wooden version that "the light it produced gave intimacy and resembled the fire in a fireplace." This variant of methacrylate sheets is more efficient for illumination, but on the other hand, it loses that virtue that the architect appreciated so much. The flat dimensions of the sheets are the same as in the wooden version, but they are 2 mm thick. The weight is therefore much better.

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