Furniture can be fashion. The Model 597, a nylon fringed lighting fixture by Italian designer Gianfranco Frattini, is a slinky light that could well have stepped out of a fashion magazine. Design house GUBI has just reissued the chic fixture that infuses any room with a seductive ambiance.
Gianfranco designed Model 597 in 1961, when fringe was associated with flappers instead of hippies. The designer was inspired by long, stringy curtains that defined entryways in Italian bars. The fixture bears similarity to the fringed hemline of Aubrey Hepburn’s iconic little black Givenchy dress in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, released in the same year. Something in the air seemed to be beckoning fringe back into style.
The Model 597 looks like it’s ready to wiggle and groove. Its movement manifests in its shadowplay, as light from the bulbs at the lamp’s core is diffused through the fringe. The lamp illuminates laterally in 360 degrees and upward thanks to one more lightbulb hidden in the center cavity.
“As well as the beautiful effect they have on the play of light, the Model 597’s fringes have a wonderful tactile quality as you run your finger over the lamp, revealing and concealing the light sources beneath. The design is both whimsical and tactile, elevating the entire interior, adding character and presence,” Marie Kristine Schmidt, chief brand officer for GUBI, says.
At the time of its initial release, the Model 597 lent its seductive glow to a number of restaurants including Gianfranco’s 1963 design of the St. Andrews restaurant in Milan. It made a spectacle among the food and cocktails, like a fashion model striking a pose at the end of the runway. While the lamp would also work well in a home, it’s best suited to be seen at all angles, far from corners or the back edge of a desk. With its uniform, cylindrical shape, the lamp deserves centerstage.
With GUBI’s update, the lamp now comes in two sizes. The larger floor lamp retains Gianfranco’s original design with six lightbulbs, but the newly introduced table lamp version has only four lightbulbs encircling its body. Their bases, made from aluminum, can be easily disassembled for maintenance or recycling.
The lamp has been reissued with the blessing of Gianfranco’s daughter, Emanuela Frattini.
“Model 597 has a unique combination of elegance, innovative functionality, and an element of whimsy that puts a smile on everybody’s face. I’m delighted that GUBI will be the ones returning it to production—a design driven company that does not compromise on quality and design intent, while having an intuitive grasp of the current cultural mood,” Emanuela says.