In 2020 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Toucan lamp, the first lighting product made of plastic specifically for children. Thanks also to an interview given by CEO Alessandro Zavater to Alice Invernizzi of Barnebys, Linea Zero has decided to reconstruct the history of the Toucan lamp, which in recent years has returned to being a much sought-after product among collectors around the world.
The mind behind this iconic product is designer Enea Ferrari, founder of Old Timer Ferrari (OTF), which later became Linea Zero. A lover of reading, art, physics and cultural travel, Enea found inspiration in real life to create objects and lamps. Manual skills and a strong artisan aspect have always characterized his creations, so much so that he often spent entire days with artisan friends in order to learn the tricks of the trade and make them his own.
All the products made by Enea were handmade in the prototype phase, to be then industrialized for the real production. The materials used in the first period were metal, sheet metal and wood. Later, starting with the creation of the Toucan, he began to design lamps in plastic.
Toucan lamp: the story of a success
The desire to experiment led Enea Ferrari to try his hand with the then innovative polypropylene Moplen, a plastic material for industrial use with excellent electrical and chemical resistance. Shortly thereafter, Enea created the world’s first children’s lamp of that type and material, the Toucan. The product was so successful that it inspired other designers to create similar products, creating a trend that is still sought after today.
The Toucan remained on the market for about 6 years, sold in Europe mainly through lighting distributors and wholesalers. After having produced thousands of pieces under the OTF brand, in 1973 the marking was changed from OTF to Linea Zero. In addition, the lamp was renamed Cocorì.
As a result, over the years, models of the lamp have been produced under both the OTF brand and the Linea Zero brand. Moreover, there are several models that, for purely commercial purposes, do not bear any brand name. Some large foreign importers have in fact requested and obtained this small variation. In any case, these changes do not affect the originality, the important thing is that the shape of the body, beak and foot is identical. In fact, there is no version with different dimensions, while the colours of the various parts that make up the Toucan can vary.
Unfortunately, in the mid-70s, the success of this lamp has been waning. However, in recent years, the Toucan has returned to success becoming object of desire among lovers of modern antiques and vintage products.
Not only Toucan, the other successes of Enea Ferrari
In addition to the Toucan, Enea Ferrari designed other iconic products for OTF, such as Olaf The Viking (dated 1971/1972), the Rolls-Royce pen holders and the Automobilina. The latter, made of sheet metal and copper, was a successful lamp that allowed the company to invest in subsequent projects, such as the Toucan.
During his career, Enea never dwelt too much on the success of his products, as soon as one project was finished, another one immediately followed. In the following years, he created other highly appreciated products, such as the Pink Panther lamp in 1984 (with the Pink Panther embracing the lamppost), the British Red Phone Box in 1990, the first version of the Biplano in 1993 and the Veliero in 1998. These, along with many other products, also found their way into very famous warehouses, such as Harrods in the UK.
In his later years, during which Linea Zero moved towards an increasingly contemporary and adult style, Enea designed many of the lamps now in the company’s catalogue:
- Helios in 2001
- Pois in 2007
- Globe produced in Polilux in 2011 but already designed in the ’60s in opaque material
- Litos in 2011
- Space Collection in 2013
- Atom in 2013
- Cloud in 2015
- Flat in 2015
- Vela in 2016
- Prisma in 2018
- Building in 2018
- Half Globe in 2019
The present and future of the Toucan lamp
Before the pandemic, the company planned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Toucan lamp by organising an exhibition to which all known collectors would be invited to exhibit their Toucan for a few weeks in Verona, Italy, the birthplace of Enea Ferrari.
On this occasion, Linea Zero also intended to launch a crowdfunding initiative for the restyling of the lamp, with the aim of putting it back on the market in a version faithful to the original and updated in compliance with current regulations. Although these initiatives have been postponed for the moment, Linea Zero continues to make several posts on the company’s social network pages and on its blog, demonstrating that the passion for the Toucan lamp is more alive than ever.