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Semi-centenary of Legendary Italian Beer House, Splügen Bräu


This year is the semi-centenary of Splügen Bräu, the Italian beer house and restaurant transformed by industrial designers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni.

The bar became synonymous with groundbreaking interior design and has even had a ceiling light named after it. Sadly, the bar closed in 1981, but its legacy lives on in reproduction artefacts taken from the original designs.

The Splügen Bräu was located on Corsa Europa in fashionable Milan. The interior’s economical use of space was striking for the time. The restaurant offered space for 80 diners in facing bench seating reminiscent of a train or boat. These seats were laid out in rows over three rising tiers. The rise between each tier was around 1.2 metres, giving diners in the top tier a commanding view of the restaurant.

When it opened 50 years ago, the Splügen Bräu had a particularly forward-thinking attitude to lighting and ceiling fixtures. The electrics and air conditioning were exposed along the ceiling, in keeping with industrial design principles.

Higher-level lighting incorporated existing Zatalux designs, but each table had its own pulley-weighted ceiling light, made from spun aluminium. These iconic lights featured a doughnut of corrugated metal that looked remarkable beside the traditional woodwork, suspended in the air like a collection of small flying saucers.

50 years later in 2011, an Autogrill self-service restaurant occupies the premises on Corsa Europa, but many of the designs live on in production by other manufacturers. Zanotta reproduced the bar stool and I Servi range of restaurant fixtures; Alessi reproduced the glasses and tableware and Flos took on the name of the restaurant for the aluminium pendant light.

Specialist retailers now sell reproductions of the original classic designs, including the UK’s Iconic Lights, which stocks a replica of the classic Splügen Bräu aluminium ceiling light. Managing Director David Gutfreund remarks, “It is an honour to be able to reproduce celebrated designs and we are proud to help everyday consumers afford to have these beautiful items in their homes.”

“Despite being 50 years old, this design does not look out of place beside the most modern of fittings and beside traditional wooden dining room furniture, as in the original setting, it will still look striking. Adding a ceiling light like the Splugen Brau to a dining room makes the statement that you appreciate high quality industrial design.” For more information visit their site at


 industrial design
 ceiling lights
 designer lights
 interior design

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