DOUBTLESS, Thomas Edison would be amused. Originally, lamps were simply objects to be used for reading in the dark. Then the Italians transformed them into gorgeous pieces of sculpture. Now, many contemporary high-design Italian lamps look shriveled and anorexic. The lamps themselves, however, are only half the story. Their dramatic shadow projections also serve as ornaments.
Achille Castiglione's Giovi lamp, for instance, dramatically perks up a dull wall, casting shadows that resemble flower petals (or the spokes of a wheel, or a ball of fire). Mario Botta's Shogun, by Artemide, hedges its bets with an adjustable diffuser (vaguely reminiscent, as the name suggests, of the visor in a Japanese warrior's helmet). When switched off, these lamps seem incomplete.
You don't have to be a classical scholar to enjoy the work of Carlo Forcolini, a Milanese designer, but it helps.
Forcolini's Polifemo torchier (floor lamp) for Artemide projects a kaleidoscopic pattern onto the ceiling or wall that brings to mind Cyclops, the mythic, one-eyed man-eating giant from the Odyssey.