Revealing the importance between Pop Art and design, Cesare Casati and Emanuele Ponzio’s Pillola lamps designed in 1968, are representative of Italy’s anti-design movement of the mid-1960s and 1970s. Challenging notions of “good design,” the anti-design movement took its cues from Pop Art’s use of bright colors and banal subject matter.
The Pillola lights culturally channel the art of both Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol with their oversized and humorous depiction of pills and other everyday objects or food. Drawing comparisons between both Oldenburg’s 1962 series of soft sculptures (such as Floor Cake and Floor Burger) and Warhol’s Brillo Box (1964), the Pillola lamps provoke questions about design, function, and material. Each lamp sits on an acrylic disc base and can be adjusted to varying angles. When grouped together these large forms evoke the haphazard look of pills accidentally dropped, demonstrating the designers’ tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and calling out their materiality and scale. The lamps are also representative of 1960s lighting design’s affinity for plastics, being made out of ABS (a common thermoplastic polymer) and acrylic. Casati and Ponzio’s choice of material characterizes the Italian designers’ eagerness to use various synthetic substances for both lighting and furniture designs. The Pillola lighting group captures the innovative design spirit of post-World War II Italy and the sensibilities of both modern art and culture.