The Tatou family of decorative lights combine traditional basket weaving with modern-day technology, in the creation of simple elegant perforated shades. The floor, table and suspension luminaires is a large family designed by design darling Patricia Urquiola.

Below is an enlightening interview delving in to the concept, process and challenges of the Tatou journey.

What was your inspiration for Tatou?
Tatou began life as a luminaire that crosses a traditional dome style with a surface that is interpreted through a creative language to screen and let the light filter through from inside.
The first prototypes were suspension models, but they immediately bred into a family. Development in various sizes and situations in the domestic environment came naturally. The process began by looking for different ways to reconstruct membranes, conceived like Japanese armour: a series of metal buckles cleverly united by tapes with a powerful emotional value.
There was then a process of simplification into overlapping, perforated, vertical bands riveted together. We translated the design into a mass production process by transitioning to injection moulding. The overlapping of these bands has been crystallised in three-dimensional leather, a variable section mould and by the geometric pattern. With Flos, the challenge was to obtain a mass produced product, while retaining strong artisan connotations.

Where does the name Tatou come from?
Tatou is French for armadillo: the mammal famous for its structure made up of plates of bone covered with a protective layer of horn. ‘Tatou’ has an emotional sound to it, which I think is consistent with the emotional function of this object.

In a period of technological revolution in the lighting sector, is form still important?
In Tatou’s case, the dome shape acts as a filter for the light source. But whatever evolutions of the light source there may be, the form of the luminaire continues to be a decisive factor in creating a light that floods the lamp and filters through discretely to the eyes. This creates a harmonious play of light and shadow through the shade’s three-dimensional, perforated leather. In this context, the shadow plays as important a role as the light. The colour too acts in a decisive way for the final lighting effect. Our decision to produce Tatou in three colour versions is not only an aesthetic one, but has the precise intention of obtaining different lighting effects.

Why was a polymer material chosen for this lamp?
The aim was to offer a sophisticated, high quality product, but at a competitive price.
We achieved success by using a complicated process. The choice of a material like injection moulded methacrylate/polycarbonate is also linked both to its lightness and non-fragility, as well as to the possibility of using it with a three-dimensional mould, in such a way as to obtain mass production, without affecting the original concept of the bands in the armour. The dome is simplified into four identical modules that speed up assembly. Methacrylic/polycarbonate is also a material that interacts with the light and lends itself to different effects depending on the proportions between its components of milkiness, opacity and colour. We performed many tests to find the perfect final combination of these three components, and managed like this to give a polymer material a sense of preciousness. And we are planning to experiment with moulding using new bio polymers too.

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