twentytwentyone discovered Constance Guisset's Vertigo pendant light in the basement of Rosanna Orlandi's eponymous store, at a satellite exhibition during the Milan Furniture Fair in 2010. It was subsequently produced and distributed by Petite Friture and has been one of our bestsellers ever since.
We were excited to be invited to exclusively launch a new addition to the range. Constance and Petite Friture have re-imagined this contemporary classic, introducing LED technology to create Vertigo Nova, a low energy and diffused extension to the Vertigo family.
With the launch of the new design we thought it opportune to find out more about the history and development of the Vertigo collection with an exclusive Q&A with the designer.
20/21 Please tell us more about the origins of the design and this first exhibition.
Constance Guisset Vertigo was born when I was a design student at the ENSCI in Paris. We had a workshop where we were asked to design a cabin. I wanted to give the sense of a shelter in a minimal way, by suggesting a space of intimacy just from above. I started to work on a lamp prototype, with ribbons. I did many tests of general size and width of the ribbons. Then, by chance, I created a certain tension that twisted the shape. I was myself surprised by the result and felt there was something happening there.
It was the beginning of Vertigo. I worked on the project a lot to make it better finished with a possibility of industrialization. I showed it for my diploma few years later, in 2007.
The next year, it was exhibited at the Villa Noailles, in Hyères in the bedroom of Marie Laure de Noailles, together with some other objects. The whole set won the public prize. Amélie du Passage, the founder of Petite Friture, saw it there. It was how our adventure started.
Then it was shown at Maison & Objet where I was named "designer of the year", together with other designers. Rossana saw the Vertigo there and proposed me to show it on the basement of her beautiful space in Milan where you saw it!
© Constance Guisset Studio
2021 Tell us about the 'mechanics' of the Vertigo, the design allows for an elegant and peaceful kinetic movement whilst on a practical level, it can be twisted into two smaller circles for compact flat-pack shipping. Were you inspired by photographic equipment?
CG I was inspired by the Quechua tent, named "2". In the first versions, I used the fiber glass of the tent (I actually destroyed tents to take the fiberglass). This is how I thought of the flat pack. Of course, I see the link with the photographic inspiration (I love this object too) but it really came from the tent at first.
2021 Vertigo has found its way into countless homes, hotels and interiors since over the last 10 years. Are there any notable projects or homes that have been significant for you?
CG I receive a lot of pictures of people showing me their Vertigo lamp in their own home or in space they happen to visit. I confess I began a collection. It is always a great joy to see that people are choosing this object to be a part of their everyday life. It becomes theirs. It is the most significant thing for me. I think this object is somehow benevolent. It takes care of your body without touching it. You feel sheltered under it.
Recently, I received the photo of a baby with the Vertigo above her, it was the niece of a friend of mine. They called her Constance because they liked the lamp, without knowing me. I love this photo, it really made me happy.
2021 Since launch and in celebrating ten years of Vertigo you have issued new colours, but why the redesign?
CG Vertigo indeed comes in many colours, and we will continue to work on that. The redesign came from the desire to try new typologies and to work on the light. I am very interested in illusion, so I wanted to try for the light to come mysteriously from the centre, in order to sublimate the function of the lamp.
Also, the Nova is made with the means I have today, being a more experienced designer working with a brand that can support a longer and more expensive project development. I love the freshness of the first Vertigo that I made myself with my hands, but I also love the lamp that I designed with glass, making models with my 3D printing machine for the center part and having some more complex tests made with glass and light.
In a way, Nova is just like a sister that looks like you but is still different!
2021 Why did you wait for Vertigo Nova before creating a floor and wall version?
CG For a long time, we wanted to create a floor and wall version, in order to extend the range of the lamp. When we started to work on this, we also tackled other points that we wanted to explore, especially light. To be honest, I am also lobbying to make a ceiling version ;-)
2021 Is it anticipated that the original model will complement Vertigo Nova or will they compete?
CG Vertigo and Vertigo Nova are like two sisters. One is not more or less relevant than the other. Nova is a mutation of Vertigo in 2020. They share some family traits but have each their unique identity. So each of them can appeal to different people.
2021 Your solo exhibition Musée des Arts Décoratifs in 2017 will have been a great honour and cemented your position as a leading designer. With this comes certain responsibilities, and what are the challenges that design industry must face in the times ahead of the pandemic and with environmental concerns.
CG I think indeed that the design industry has a special responsibility in these peculiar times. In a world already saturated with objects, we need to be careful with what we are creating. We still need well-designed and well-produced objects, that are sustainable. That means objects respectful of the environment, of the user and of the people whose work makes these objects possible. But sustainability does not only lie in the chosen materials or the way to recycle an object. It is also about the design of the object itself: it needs to stand the test of time and go beyond the trend. This is also a concern that the designer has to bear in mind. Somehow I have the feeling that elegance, discreetness and classicism are essential in our objects. Humility too.
© Constance Guisset Studio
© Constance Guisset Studio
Thank you Constance!
Vertigo Nova pendant from £1200
Vertigo Nova wall light from £1615
Vertigo Nova floor light from £2200