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Spotlight: Tatou - imagery made vivid

Posted on May 17 2016

Tatou is one of Flos Lighting's most popular designs. It takes its name from the French word for 'armadillo'. This is an animal with a structure made of plates of bone covered with a protective layer of horn. Much like the mammal is seen as tough, the lighting design is forged with an external strength. But there's an emotional side to this product.


Initially a dome style light fixture, the first prototypes for Flos' Tatou were suspension models. As development increased across varying sizes and situations, it didn't take long for the designs to become a family.


The dome shape is a filter for the light source. It creates a harmonious play of light and shadow through the shade’s three-dimensional, perforated leather. Unique in its construction, the shadow plays as important a role as the light. The colour of the product adds decisively to the final lighting effect.


It's a complicated production process. It started out as a process of reconstructing membranes to be conceived like Japanese armor. The design boasts a mighty strength and a gentle fragility. To forge the final product a series of metal buckles are cleverly united by tapes. Overlapping vertical bands are riveted together, and crystallized in three dimensional leather.

The design is mass produced using a three dimensional mould. The intricate nature of the design means that great care still has to be taken. Retaining artisan values can be a difficult thing to do. Despite this, everything about this product echoes with an air of virtuosity.