Italian design as such goes back almost a century and to consecrate its ever growing presence in Italian everyday life, the architect and industrial designer Gio Ponti launched Domus magazine in 1928.
After World War Two it took until the late fifties to the early sixties for design (essentially Italian) to regain its prominence within the now fast paced post war recovery of the European educated classes.
The sixties in particular saw the transformation (from traditional to modern production methods and products) of many existing manufacturing companies and the spontaneous creation of many new ones, Flos being as good an example as any of the latter category.
The period was awash with creative talents as well as new industrial materials and processes and Flos, as a nascent lighting company, took full advantage of the prevailing conditions.
The company soon enlisted the services of the Castiglioni brothers (Achille and Pier Giacomo, at the time the most praised designers for their daring in breaking away from tradition) who, within the first year of Flos's existence (1962) created the Arco floor lamp, a symbol of the avant-garde inclinations of the period and still as commercially successful today as it has been since its first appearance.
Tobia Scarpa was another early appointee. At the time, a new synthetic non-woven and stretchable fabric called Cocoon made its first appearance in Europe, arriving from the US. It soon was taken up by both Castiglioni and Scarpa to give a new generation of luminaires a spider web like outer skin. That all those luminaires should still be in production today can only confirm the foresight of that very special group of people that Flos was.
Over the years, which followed, and up till now, Flos have managed to continue attracting a constant flow of the most gifted designers around. The list is long but it includes in particular such talents as Antonio Citterio, Piero Lissoni, Jasper Morrison, Philippe Starck and Marcel Wanders, to name but a few.
The key dates of the launch period could be given as:
1964, when Sergio Gandini becomes the first managing director of the company and acquires a significant share holding in it. It is also in that year that Flos moved from its birth place of Merano (Sud Tyrol) to a purpose built industrial site on the outskirts of Brescia.
1968: Flos first retail store, designed by the Castiglioni brothers, opened in Milan. Pino Tovaglia and Max Huber are appointed to respectively design the logo and the first catalogue.
1971: Flos opens its first subsidiary. It is in Germany.
1974: Acquisition of Arteluce, one of the very early starters in the Italian design history. It had been founded in 1939 by Gino Sarfatti and had been for many years at the vanguard of Italian lighting design.
Over the following years, Flos grew at a sustained and fast rate, albeit organically, until 2005 when it made its second large scale acquisition (after that of Arteluce thirty odd years before) in the form of a 75% stake in Antares of Spain which has now become Flos Architectural.
Atrium, after having been a Flos dealer for over thirty years was appointed sole UK distributor for all the Flos divisions in January 2011.