Cirio: Simple, Elegant Fixture Illustrates the Design Ethos of its Spanish Makers, Santa & Cole

Traditional craftsmanship and innovation mark the warm glow of the Cirio lighting system and its Barcelona-based design editors

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Santa & Cole’s Cirio hanging light

Cirio translates directly to “candle” in Spanish. It is a fitting name for the Santa & Cole family of fixtures that embodies the likeness of this most ancient light source’s strikingly simple shape and subtly warm glow.

The Spanish firm, based in Barcelona, has been designing and developing award-winning lighting and furniture for more than 30 years. Its Cirio collection, combining traditional craftsmanship with innovative technology to embrace a new kind of luxury, is wholly representative of Santa & Cole’s overall aesthetic, its mission to inspire and identify through the built environment, and its editorial design process. Simply put, all projects and products are carefully considered and conceived in partnership with designers.

“Editorial work is our raison d’etre,” said Claudia Rosello, an editor at the firm. “We consider, select, take a risk and finally offer products and services initially conceived in partnership with a good designer.”

Rosello was referring to Santa & Cole’s overall philosophy as well as its specific partnership with Antoni Arola, the designer or “author” of Cirio. Arola conceived the light after a trip to Istanbul where he was inspired by the ancient city’s Blue Mosque and the traditional, suspended glass (formerly oil) lamps that hang throughout its interior. Like the mosque, the Cirio collection represents moments of meetings and assemblies, Arola said. “It is not a lamp for a private room,” he said. “It is a lamp for shared spaces.”

Determining the right materials is one of the most important steps in Santa & Cole’s creative process, as it was during Cirio’s development. A porcelain shade, they realized, would best filter the light and create the ambient warmth of a hanging candle. But the firm also needed to develop a custom fixture from which to project that light for the desired effect. In order to successfully create the candle-like glow and keep the beam glare-free, Santa & Cole developed a specialty LED bulb in the shape of a compact light capsule called HeadLed. The HeadLed capsule is a combined socket and bulb designed to be compatible with a variety of shades, or “hats,” to form the HeadHat system.

Sargadelos factory, photo courtesy of Sargadelos

To develop the porcelain shades for Cirio, it was essential for the team to find an exacting manufacturer.

“The manufacturing of Cirio shades is a very delicate process which requires expertise and artisan hands,” said Rosello. Santa & Cole chose to work with Sargadelos, a Galician porcelain company with origins dating back to 1806. The firm represented the kind of design and quality standards, mixed with heritage and history, that both Rosello and Arola were after.

Finding the right level of thickness for the Cirio shade was key to achieving the desired effect, said Arola. In order to control this thickness and also cleverly conceal the technology contained within, each Cirio shade must be individually produced. This meticulous process means that each shade features subtle but distinct hue variations.

Cirio Circular, photo courtesy of Santa & Cole

Beginning with Cirio Circular, a stunning halo of light comprising dozens of individual fixtures, the firm quickly saw the potential for Cirio to be expanded into a versatile family of lights. The creation of varying structures allowed them to play with the amount of light sources hanging from each, resulting in distinctive looks and transforming levels of light.

“Cirio Circular was created to be a large circular lamp for public indoor spaces,” said Arola. “But when we saw the effect of the porcelain with the LED light capsules, we realized that this combination could have many shapes and uses. That was when Cirio became a complete system with the lamps in bigger or smaller circles, in a line, or standalone…a rich, infinite performance of compositional games.”

Santa & Cole sees room for the sculptural and atmospheric Cirio collection to continue to grow. The company’s future plans for Cirio shed light on Santa & Cole’s larger vision and commitment to re-discovering the highest and best use of the everyday items that comprise our tangible environments. Rosello summarized: “Our goal is to keep searching for objects characterized by their strong formal clarity and clear design language; comprehensible designs with good balance between form and function.”


To learn more about Spanish firm Santa & Cole and its Cirio Collection, CLICK HERE.

Categories: Lighting, Lighting Products, Sponsored