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Lighting reflections a.k.a a new blog from LightScene Studio.

Gibigiana is a flash of light reflected on a surface

According to the Italian vocabulary, “gibigiana” is that flash of light reflected on a surface from a mirror or water. More precisely, the term has its origins in the Milanese dialect and refers to the time when children amused themselves by reflecting the sun's rays with a small mirror, making the “gibigiana,” precisely, to annoy a small pet or to disturb the desk neighbor at school.

The word gibigiana is exquisitely Lombard, just like our firm, which is based in one of Milan's most identifiable and characteristic neighborhoods. Early users of the term include two illustrious Milanese, the poet Carlo Porta and Alessandro Manzoni, who in one of his "Poesie Giovanili", entitled precisely “Gibigiana,” said:

"Del sole il puro raggio

rotto dall'onda impura,

sulle vetuste mura

gibigianando va"

gibigiana with aa

The thread with the Milanese tradition is then enriched by another illustrious person, designer Achille Castiglioni, who in 1980 designed a lamp named “Gibigiana”.

A table lamp designed specifically for domestic needs, characterized by a concentrated and directional beam of light, ideal for carrying out activities that require attention and concentration in an environment with little or no lighting.

Gibigiana lamp LightScene Studio
"Gibigiana", A. Castiglioni, 1980

As is always the case with Castiglioni's work, the design object becomes an almost perfect synthesis of playful aspects, ingenious solutions and small quality details. Such is the case with Gibigiana lamp where a circular metal reflector with a mirrored surface (adjustable by means of an endless screw) reflects, without glare, a concentrated beam of light, coming from the hidden source. About this lamp Castiglioni himself will say, “The name comes from memories of his own childhood when children enjoyed reflecting the sun's rays with a small mirror, making the ‘gibigiana,’ as this game was called in the popular Lombard term.”

Achille Castiglioni LightScene Studio
Achille Castiglioni

Similarly, in cinema, the Gibigiana is a device used to alter the color and quality of the light diffused in a filming environment. It consists of a wooden rod onto which strips of gelatin (e.g., red to simulate the light of a flame) are attached, which is moved in front of a light source.

From cinema we also learn a secondary use of the term gibigiana, namely that of “woman who flaunts showy elegance.” The gibigiana, a languid and flamboyant woman, first officially appears in the film “Vanità” (1947,Giorgio Pàstina) based on the play "la gibigianna" by Carlo Bertolazzi. The film was also known for marking Walter Chiari's cinema debut.

Vanità Gibigiana LightScene Studio
"Vanità", G. Pastina, 1947

Thus the term, born in Milanese dialect slang, spread to the entire Italian language, eventually identifying a reflection of light, certainly, but one of those sudden, irreverent and unexpected reflections. The term has thus become charged with a broader meaning than the simple play of light, becoming enriched with nuances that now refer to playfulness, now to irreverence, now to romantic gesture. And it is precisely this part that we found interesting about the term. A Milanese word, exquisitely addressed to the world of lighting and cinema, at once synthetic and complex, spirited and funny.

For all these reasons, linked in such an original way, it seemed almost natural to title LightScene Studio's new blog as “Gibigiana”.

From today we will try to be as playful and brilliant as Achille Castiglioni's Gibigiana lamp, as impertinent as Giorgio Pàstina's cinematic Gibigiana, and as evocative as the reflection of light on the ripples of the sea. Welcome to Gibigiana, LightScene Studio's blog dedicated to light, its wonderful and unexpected applications in the world of architecture and its endless connections with the world of cinema.


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