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“Some think it’s just about shedding light. Foscarini 1983/2023” is the monograph published by Corraini Edizioni that celebrates the first 40 years of Foscarini, presented in preview at Milan Design Week 2024.

Design as we see it, and as it is viewed by those who work with us, means giving meaning to things through confrontation and constant learning. To make not another lamp, but that particular light: which speaks to people, makes them feel at home. Every enterprise has its own way of being in the world. Ours urges us to work on complexity in projects, because doing business means making design culture and producing lamps that are laden with meaning, with the objective of adding a chapter, a paragraph or simply a sentence to the long history of design. The book “Some think it’s just about shedding light. Foscarini 1983/2023” is a journey through forty years of lighting design innovation, as told through our stories, ideas, and products.

A monograph, edited by Alberto Bassi and Ali Filippini and published by Corraini, with six thematic itineraries, each including critical analysis and a selection of lamps, with a recap of the entire product range.

The 320-page volume is enriched by the authoritative contributions of Aurelio Magistà, journalist, author, and university lecturer; Gian Paolo Lazzer, sociologist and university lecturer; Beppe Mirisola, writer; Veronica Tabaglio, researcher; Stefano Micelli, economist and university lecturer; Massimo Curzi, architect; and Beppe Finessi, architect, researcher, critic, and director of the bookzine Inventario.

Testimonies and memories to share and describe the core values and distinctiveness of Foscarini; data and images to highlight the journey taken, delving into its influence on the Italian design landscape, always in a forward-looking perspective, in line with the company’s philosophy.

“Forty years have passed, but when we turn on a new lamp it is always a novel experience. Because there is something magical about that instant in which an idea, having become an object that spreads its glow, demonstrates its light. It is the ancestral fascination with the birth of light – an immaterial material that shapes our world – which makes us still say, after 40 years, that the most important lamp will always be the next one. This drives us to cultivate human short circuits with designers, artists, artisans, without whom not one of our projects could take form.”

Carlo Urbinati
/ Founder and President of Foscarini

Foscarini 1983 / 2023

Some think it’s just about shedding light.

Join us on a journey through forty years of lighting design innovation, as told through our stories, ideas, and products.
A monograph, edited by Alberto Bassi and Ali Filippini and published by Corraini.

In the ever-evolving landscape of design, some creations stand the test of time, becoming iconic symbols of innovation and creativity. Havana by Jozeph Forakis is one such masterpiece celebrating its 30th anniversary.

Discover Havana

An iconic designer lamp, that brightened homes and etched its presence into the collective imagination, emerging as a timeless archetype in the world of lighting. Born in 1993, Havana established itself as a new luminous object: a medium-height lamp, almost a new typology, with a strikingly visible diffuser that gracefully spread light from its core. A familiar figure, a “character” with whom to establish a personal relationship, easy to insert in any setting, bringing it character with its warm light.

The development process was meticulous, starting with prototypes in glass and fiberglass. The team faced challenges in finding the right balance between cost, weight, and lighting efficiency. In a groundbreaking move, the decision was made to shift from glass to plastic, marking a pivotal moment for Foscarini as it contributed to define the company’s commitment to keeping design at the heart of everything – without setting limits and without compromises, to fully nurture the spirit of each design project. Jozeph Forakis recalls:

“Havana was the first Foscarini lamp made in plastic material. It was a risk, but Foscarini proved to be very courageous, and decided to wager on this absolute novelty.”

/ Designer

Havana’s success didn’t come without challenges. Initially met with skepticism by some dealers, it soon became a design archetype. The lamp’s inclusion in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) New York’s collection in 1995 elevated its status, cementing its place in design history.

Over the years, Havana has evolved, introducing variations and expansions, including outdoor models, while retaining its unmistakable form and the ability to evoke emotional resonance with its warm and familiar presence.


30 Years of Havana
— Foscarini Design stories
Creativity & Freedom

“Download the exclusive e-book dedicated to the 30th anniversary of Havana, featuring an in-depth interview with Jozeph Forakis, and learn more about the lamp’s development, the courage behind material choices, and its lasting impact on the design world.

Do you want to take a peek?

Chiaroscura takes center stage in the site-specific installation “Luce Scalare” on the grand staircase of Triennale Milano, leading to the exhibition ‘Alberto Meda: Tension and Lightness’ that explores some of the compositional and methodological characteristics of the Italian maestro.

Discover Chiaroscura

For the exhibition “Alberto Meda: Tension and Lightness”, held at Triennale Milano as a tribute to the great Italian engineer and designer, on view from October 6, 2023 to March 24, 2024, Foscarini has produced – based on a project by Meda himself – a site-specific installation for the grand staircase of the Triennale, featuring 34 CHIAROSCURA lamps – 17 on each side of the steps – all made to measure, from the largest with a height of over five metres (552 cm), to the smallest with a height of just 57 centimetres. A luminous set with differentiated dimming to create a choreography.

“When the curator Marco Sammicheli asked me to think about an on-site installation for the Scalone d’Onore of Triennale Milano, as part of my solo exhibition, I made a quick visit to the location and discovered that the lateral walls of the staircase are not continuous, but are made with marble columns having a triangular section, separated at a distance of 10 cm. The spaces between one column and the next have different heights, from a level of about 5 metres at the start of the staircase, and of about 50 cm at the last step, before reaching the mezzanine. I liked the idea of an intervention that would respect the architecture, inserted in a discreet way to enhance it, so I thought light might be the solution. Hiding the luminous parts in the gaps between the columns seemed like a plausible idea. So I thought about Chiaroscura, the luminator with a triangular section, like the columns, which I designed for Foscarini with my son Francesco, and about its characteristic construction, made by using extrusions of aluminium and methacrylate, thus permitting different lengths, even to a maximum of 6 metres. The technology of extrusion and its intrinsic freedom of sizing suggested the idea of making a ‘scalar’ set that emits light from its three faces, on the staircase but also on the two steps that lead down to the theatre. It seemed interesting to give the set another dimension as well, a dynamic luminous dimension, so with Foscarini we have formulated an electronic solution to achieve this effect”.

/ engineer, designer and planner

An example of Foscarini’s ability to respond to the specific needs of architects and interior designers, CHIAROSCURA embodies the innovative character of the brand. A light that stems from the contemporary world, with a distinctive personality relying on the particular luminous effect, and the original rapport between form and function.

Designed by Alberto with his son Francesco, CHIAROSCURA is the contemporary reinterpretation of the classic luminator. Striking in its simple presence and capable of emitting light at 360°, CHIAROSCURA is the result of a design challenge: to explore the possibility of boosting the functionality of the classic luminator, which emits only upward indirect light. The elegant and light body, totally lit and no longer simply producing light, was the goal that guided the definition of the form, the choice of the materials and the production technologies.

Together with Foscarini, the Medas have expanded the lamp’s functioning, creating a triangular structure in extruded aluminium, equipped with LEDs: a “cage” inside which an extrusion in opaline plastic has been placed to spread the light. Unlike classic luminators, CHIAROSCURA thus offers ambient lighting at the sides and an indirect glow on the ceiling.
The slender and visually light body of CHIAROSCURA and its warm, welcoming light make the lamp versatile, ready to bring its own discreet personality, enhancing different settings, from residences to contract projects and offices.

For special design needs and upon request, Chiaroscura is a lamp which can be realised at different heights compared to the standard version available in the catalogue.

During the Festivaletteratura event in Mantua, Italy, the designer and inventor Marc Sadler captivated the audience with intriguing career anecdotes and his talent for innovation in a talk with Beppe Finessi, sponsored by Foscarini.

On Saturday, September 9, 2023, during the event Festivaletteratura, a captivating talk took place at the stunning Teatro Bibiena in Mantua. Marc Sadler was interviewed by Beppe Finessi, leaving the large audience spellbound. Sadler shared intriguing anecdotes about his lengthy career and his knack for creating innovative solutions across various industries.

One such example was his groundbreaking work in the 1970s, where he revolutionized ski boots. While bedridden in the hospital after a snow accident, Sadler envisioned using plastic as a safer alternative to the traditional leather ski boots of that era. This led to the creation of the first thermoplastic ski boot. His ingenuity didn’t stop there. Collaborating with Dainese, Sadler designed a motorcycling suit that provided exceptional protection for athletes, introducing features like the now widely-used back protector worn by numerous champions.

Being a true advocate of innovation, Sadler has been the recipient of four Compasso d’Oro Awards, including one for the Mite and Tite lamps he designed for Foscarini in 2000.

“I got to know Foscarini during a period when I was living in Venice, and Mite was the first project we developed together. For me, Foscarini was a small company that worked with glass, a focus that was quite different from what I was doing. One day, I met one of the partners by chance, on a vaporetto. Conversing about our work, he told me about a theme that was on his mind at the time. He asked me to think about a project that would capture the sense of uncertainty of glass – that handmade aspect that is impossible to control and grants every object its own personality – but could also be industrially produced, in a coordinated vision. We parted with a promise to think about the idea.”

/ Designer

Sadler’s creative contributions extended to Foscarini’s iconic Twiggy lamp, “which has become a staple in the world of floor lamps, following the renowned Arco lamp by Castiglioni,” stated Beppe Finessi, who also recalled how Twiggy is, for example, often featured in numerous advertising campaigns for various companies outside of Foscarini.

Throughout his illustrious career, Sadler has skillfully transferred his knowledge and expertise across sectors.

“I have embraced versatility throughout my career, designing a wide range of products, from shoes to lamps, ice cream counters to hot tubs. By attentively listening to my clients’ needs, I have strived to create objects that not only fulfill their requirements but also cater to the needs and desires of the public. This is what I enjoy doing”

/  Designer

Making room for creativity: in Foscarini’s new Social Strategy Instagram becomes a stage where energy, creative freedom and research are the protagonists. What’s in a lamp? project is storytelling through images, animations, and videos, taking form in a contemporary art space, tracking the narrative thread of the Foscarini brand, with its essence, inspirations and collections.

Constantly seeking original and distinguishing solutions – not just in terms of products, but also in narrative approaches – Foscarini has decided to rethink the industry’s typical conventions of social media communication and evolves its storytelling in an unprecedented and distinctive way.

The Instagram @foscarinilamps feed is transformed into a virtual place that offers room for well-known and emerging exponents in the world of visual arts, with the objective of developing amazement, beauty and fun. A kaleidoscopic project where international artists and content creators with different backgrounds – from digital art to photography, illustration to motion art – have been invited to “play” with Foscarini collection and get inspired by a catalogue of lamps composed by different styles, materials, and designers.

“Foscarini is a company fueled by ideas, curiosity, a desire to experiment with ourselves and with new concepts. We were seeking a more distinctive, more personal way to present ourselves on social channels – a fresh solution that, grappling with the limits and characteristics of the medium, allows us to give space to creativity, gather stimuli, relate them, exchange knowledge, and combine experiences. This new digital project will feature original content that, through visual inspirations where our light takes center stage, will uncover the power of ideas.”


The first contribution comes from Luca Font – a versatile Italian artist – with an original series of illustrations inspired by modernism, with lively geometric effects. He is followed by the well-known Israeli illustrator Noma Bar – the master of negative space. And then: Federico Babina, Oscar Pettersson, Maja Wronska, Kevin Lucbert, Alessandra Bruni, Luccico and many others. Unique voices, styles and interpretations, narrating thoughts, sensations and emotions triggered by Foscarini lamps, to emphasize their forms, the ideas behind their concepts, or the effects they produce in a space. An intense calendar of unusual ideas and visions on the theme of light; a creative pathway that expresses reflections on the role played by Foscarini lamps in the transformation and definition of a personal interpretation of the home environment.

Follow the project on the official Instagram channel @foscarinilamps, immerse yourself in the magic and inspiration of the various creative interpretations.

Visit us on Instagram

Directed by Gianluca Vassallo and produced by Foscarini, the film tells the story of the icon of radical architecture, and founder of the SITE group, James Wines. The movie investigates the close relationship between the artist and the individual, between the architect and his humanity.

Different points of view and stories about the man and the artist are presented to the protagonist itself. After having spent his life imagining a world in which everything is deconstructed, ironic, overturned, daring and cultured, Wines is faced with how “the world” sees him, in a collective story about the artist-architect, that becomes also a film about the impact of lateral thinking in the community, in individuals, in the processes of change that cross the world.

The story of the collaboration between Foscarini and James Wines unfolds across a span of nearly 30 years. Its roots date back to 1991, with Table Light / Wall Light, the first piece made by Foscarini with Wines’ SITE group. Some years later, the paths of Foscarini and SITE crossed again, thanks to an extensive profile published in Inventario (the book-zine launched by Foscarini in 2010 as an original and independent forma to investigate the world of creativity and design culture).
This led to Foscarini’s idea of reviving the first project, transforming it into a collection of editions of lamps and objects: The Light Bulb Series – a signature collection based on reflection on the light bulb as archetype, with its typical rounded form, poetically interpreted in a series of surprising disruptions.

Today Foscarini, with its free spirit, completely leaves the scene to Vassallo and Wines, master of contemporary architecture and breaking.

“In my view, cinema serves to investigate human depth; and this is even more pertinent in the case of documentary works. It would have been easy to dig into the excellent archival materials, to add an interview and offer the audience yet another tribute to an artist and his work. But in the production of meaning – in cinema or in photography – the task of someone like me who brings his own restless doubts, his own curiosities, a worldview that wants to be clarified, in relation to a personality like Wines, can only be to seek the complexity of the man that nourishes the originality of his genius. My work cannot help but investigate the depth, the idiosyncrasies, the fears, the chaos of James, rather than the glory of Wines.”

Gianluca Vassallo
/ director of the film.

Shot in New York City, Watertown MN, Washington DC, Miami, Stone Ridge NY and Rome from October 2021 to February 2022, the film has been selected by the curators of Milano Design Film Festival 2022, the annual event that for ten years now has utilized cinema to engage a wider audience in relation to the most contemporary concepts of design and architecture, seen from unconventional vantage points.

The sculpture-lamp Orbital became the first step in the relationship between Foscarini and Ferruccio Laviani, but it represented also a statement: with Orbital we got away from Murano blown glass for the first time, exploring a way of thinking that has now led to the use of over 20 different technologies.

Were you to narrate your relationship with Foscarini with an adjective, which one would you choose?

I’d choose two: it is a profitable and free collaboration. The first term sounds rather financial, but that is not its only meaning. The fact that almost all the lamps I have designed for Foscarini are still in production is obviously good news for my studio and for the company. But I call it profitable above all because having designed objects people still find appealing after 30 years is an enormous gain for a designer: it confirms that what you are doing has meaning. Then comes the theme of creative freedom. Foscarini has allowed me to move with extreme independence of expression from the product to spaces, without ever setting any limitations. That is truly something rare and precious.


In your view, how was it that you arrived at the expressive and creative freedom?

I think it is part of the way of being of the people involved. If a designer wins the company’s trust, Foscarini responds by leaving him total freedom of expression. They know that this is the way to get the best from the cooperation, for both parties. Obviously in the awareness that the work of instinct is then followed by the work of the mind. In my case, Orbital was the initial wager: would a lamp with such a particular aesthetic be a success? Would it stand up to the test of time? The response of the public was affirmative, and from that moment on our partnership has always been based on maximum freedom.

What does this liberty mean for a designer?

It gives you the possibility of probing different facets of the possible. For a person like me, who has never identified with one style or a particular type of taste, but periodically falls in love with avours, atmospheres and decorative aspects that are always different, this freedom is fundamental because it allows me to express myself. I do not have artistic pretences and I am well aware of the fact that what I do is for production: serial objects that have to have a clear function and perform it well. Alongside these rational considerations, however, what excites me in the creative act is desire. The almost irrepressible desire to bring about an object that did not exist: something I would like to have, as a part of my life.

What are these objects you desire, and therefore design, going to be like?

I don’t have an answer in terms of style: I always make different things because I always feel different, and I fill my physical and mental spaces with presences that vary in time and reect these personal landscapes. I am fascinated, however, by everything that creates a bond with people or between people. I always give a character to the things I design: the one that in my view best reects my way of interpreting the spirit of the time. Sometimes of the instant. This is much more true for a lamp, as opposed to a piece of furniture, because a decorative lamp is chosen for an affinity, for what it says to us and about us. It is the start of an ideal dialogue between designer and consumer. If the lamp continues to speak to people over time, even 30 years later, it means the conversation is relevant, and the lamp is still able to say something meaningful.

The event for the thirtieth anniversary of Orbital was also an opportunity to present the new creative project NOTTURNO LAVIANI with an exhibition at Foscarini Spazio Monforte. A photographic series in which Gianluca Vassallo interprets the lamps Laviani has designed for Foscarini in a storytelling that unfolds in fourteen episodes in which the lamps inhabit alien spaces.

Discover more about Notturno Laviani

What do you feel when you see the interpretation Gianluca Vassallo has made of your lamps?

The sensation is that of a circle coming to a close. Because Gianluca narrates his idea of light by using the objects I have designed as subtle but significant presences. Which is the same thing that happens when a person decides to put one of my lamps into their home. Looking at Notturno, then, I feel the same great emotion I feel when someone takes possession of one of my projects, or makes it a part of their existence: the sensation is that beautiful feeling of having done something that has meaning and relevance for others.


Which photo represents you best?

Definitely the one of Orbital outside: the yover with the torn circus poster. Because that’s what I’m like: everything and its opposite.


30 Years of Orbital
— Foscarini Design stories
Creativity & Freedom

Download the exclusive e-book Foscarini Design stories — 30 years of Orbital and learn more about the collaboration between Foscarini and Laviani.
A fertile interchange, based on elective affinities, extending across three decades as a pathway of mutual growth.

Do you want to take a peek?

In a captivating talk led by Beppe Finessi as part of Festivaletteratura 2022, Ferruccio Laviani shared his passion and unique approach to object and experience design.

On September 10, 2022, at the evocative Teatro Bibiena, the talk “Enthralled by Objects” took place, featuring designer Ferruccio Laviani interviewed by Beppe Finessi. Laviani took the audience on a fascinating journey through his experience in the world of design. Starting from his roots in the school of lutherie and transitioning through furniture design, he shared his reflections on creating objects that go beyond mere functionality, aiming to evoke emotions and personal connections.

“The world is full of windows filled with chairs, lamps, and tables, so why should anyone choose a new one designed by me? The answer is simple: to make people see my products with the same eyes as when they fall in love with someone.”

/ Designer

With humility and sincerity, the designer recounted anecdotes from his career, offering an intimate look at his most iconic works and the challenges faced along the creative journey. Stimulated by Beppe Finessi’s questions, Laviani shared his philosophy behind creating objects that blend different styles and influences, giving life to creations that defy time and conventional styles, opening new perspectives on creativity and contemporary aesthetics.

To relive the experience of the talk and immerse yourself in the universe of Ferruccio Laviani, you can watch the video of the speech following the link below.

Watch the video

Battiti is a project of pure experimentation on light, undertaken by Foscarini in collaboration with Andrea Anastasio and Davide Servadei of Ceramica Gatti 1928. It is an unconstrained experience that breaks away from conventional approaches, to open up new interpretations of light. In this context, light transforms into a material, engaging in a dialogue with ceramics.

In the project Battiti, presented in an exhibition at Fuori Salone 2022, light is used not to illuminate but to construct. As if it were a material: it generates effects, underlines forms and invents shadows. Because this is what Andrea Anastasio does when he gets his hands on the archives of the Gatti workshop, taking things apart and putting them back together, following the primordial instinct of someone who creates by desire, passion and necessity. He overturns traditional logic and reaches a new logic, interpreting history to give it a different direction and a different meaning. In this action of creation and discovery at the same time, Anastasio uses light, which also becomes a tool of dialogue with the observer. The openings of light, active and “live” elements in the bas reliefs and sculptures by Anastasio, are thus the beginning of a new relationship between the objects that contain them and those who observe them.

“Battiti began with reflections on the age-old relationship between light and ceramics, a voyage that extends from oil lamps to religious shrines, and accompanies the form of vision in its many manifestations. Then another observation made its way into awareness, and I began to dissect ceramic panels from the castings of the Gatti archives in Faenza, breaking them down in a systematic way. Bringing light into this series of works was a slow process that came after an immediate intuition, as often happens when we want to convey the impact of a vision that has captured us yet eludes us at the same time, precisely because it is impalpable. So, once again, the dialogue between ornament and light becomes an opportunity for awareness of the role light plays in our everyday progress, and its ability to remind us of the illusive character of continuity, the futility of the search for completeness.”

/ Designer

Research that is the result of the freedom that has always been an earmark of Foscarini, a company without a factory that thrives on ideas and imagination. This freedom makes it possible – and even necessary – to investigate the most suitable materials and production methods for the optimal development of every new idea. An approach that sets the company apart, combining industrial intuitions with an innate spirit of craftsmanship. An operation far from any commercial strategies, typical of the identity of Foscarini, a company that has always believed in innovation and the constant pursuit of meaning.

“Because it is only by getting off the beaten track that one can gain the courage to imagine new ideas. It is only by listening and sharing visions with people who belong to other worlds that one can understand where it makes sense to go. It is only by sharing the true passion of creators that we can grasp the meaning of the word design, in its purest, most authentic significance”

/ President and founder of Foscarini


Foscarini Artbook series #1
Research & Developement

Download the exclusive e-book about this research project, inspired by the sole desire to explore new expressive languages, meanings, and ways of experiencing light. Texts by Carlo Urbinati, Andrea Anastasio, and Franco La Cecla. Photographs by Massimo Gardone.

Do you want to take a peek?

After selection for the ADI Design Index 2021, making the project eligible to compete for the Compasso d’Oro Award, an important new chapter begins in the spring of 2022 for VITE (LIVES), the multimedia production by Foscarini, with distribution by Corraini in the world’s finest bookstores starting in May 2022.

Corraini and Foscarini have once again joined forces to distribute VITE (LIVES), a story told in images, videos and words to explore different interpretations of the home, the relationship with light, the link between life in the home and the space outside. The publisher and the decorative lighting brand share in an attitude of experimentation and constant research, as seen in the creation of the book-zine Inventario. Corraini will now also distribute the VITE project by Foscarini in the outstanding bookstores of its network around the world.

VITE is a fascinating publishing initiative with which Foscarini talks about light, starting not with the company’s lamps – the people who design, develop and produce them – but with the individuals who live in the spaces brightened by those lamps.

Presented in 2020 and selected for the ADI Design Index 2021, VITE (LIVES) is a voyage that takes us to cities in the North, South, East and West, inside real lives of real people – guided by artist, photographer and videomaker Gianluca Vassallo and writer Flavio Soriga. In the photo and video series, people are at the centre of the visuals and the narration, allowing viewers the freedom to roam vicariously inside personal spaces, real spaces that are approachable and imperfect. This time, Foscarini no longer looks at carefully controlled environments, “aspirational” images of photographic sets, but rather at homes that are lived in on an everyday basis, and close-ups of the people who dwell in them.

Discover more about VITE and
get your fee digital copy

Go to the VITE section

Mite is the lamp that marked the beginning of what has become a long-term collaboration between Foscarini and Marc Sadler: a project that disrupts the usual schemes, indulging in what the designer defines as “unreasonable urges”, an attitude that permits exploration of all the potentialities of a material and a technology.

In 2001 Mite won the Compasso d’Oro ADI – the most authoritative global design prize – together with the suspension version, Tite. Twenty years have passed since then, and we think this event, like the iconic and timeless character of Mite, deserves appropriate celebration. The result is Mite Anniversario, an evolution of the original Mite concept based on ulterior experimentation and variation. In this important occasion, we have interviewed Marc Sadler and had an interesting chat about Mite, Tite, and lighting design.



MS — “I got to know Foscarini in a period when I was living in Venice, and Mite was the first project we developed together. For me, Foscarini was a small company that made glass, a focus that was quite different from what I was doing. One day I met one of the partners by chance, on a vaporetto. Conversing about our work, he told me about a theme that was on his mind at the time. He asked me to think about a project that would have the sense of uncertainty of glass – that handmade aspect that is impossible to control and grants every object its own personality – but could also be industrially produced, in a coordinated vision. We parted with a promise to think about the idea.”



MS — “I was going to Taiwan for a project of tennis rackets and golf clubs, for a company that works with fibreglass and carbon fibre. That’s a world in which products are made in large numbers, not just a few specimens. When it is produced, when it comes out of the moulds, the racket is gorgeous; then the workers start to clean it, to finish it, to paint it, covering it with graphic elements, and it gradually loses part of the appeal of the production phase. In the end, you have an object covered with signs that conceal its true structure, and the final product – in my view – is always less interesting than it was in the initial phase. In my work as a designer, I prefer the product in its raw state, prior to the finishing, when it is still a “mythical”, beautiful thing, because the material vibrates. Looking at these pieces against the light, you can see the fibres, and I noticed the way the light passed through the material. I took some samples and brought them to Venice. As soon as I got back I called Foscarini, and told them I was thinking about a way to use this material. Although the fibreglass, made of patches of material, has limits in the uncertainties of its workmanship, I was thinking about an object for industrial production. Proposing it to them was rather risky, because large production quantities would be necessary to justify its use, and the material is not very versatile and adaptable. Nevertheless, if we were able to keep it in that fascinating material state, it would be a great opportunity for application to a lighting project.”


MS — “We rang a lot of doorbells of suppliers who used the same materials and techniques to produce wine vats or sporting goods, but unfortunately they were not willing to collaborate on this experimental research. But we were not discouraged, and we continued to search until we found an entrepreneur who also worked with this material for his own, personal pursuits (he had built a motorized hang-glider). He was enthusiastic about the project and immediately wanted to cooperate on it. He had a company that produces extraordinary, very special fishing rods, but he decided to take the leap with us into the world of lighting. He sent us trial samples, which he made on his own, asking our opinion on new resins and new threads. Design is made by people who act and interact, together. This is a totally Italian kind of magic. In the rest of the world, companies often wait for the designer to arrive, like a superhero, ready to deliver something that is already done, ready for implementation. But that is not how it works: to make truly innovative projects, there has to be on-going dialogue, a process where problems arise and are solved together. I prefer that way of working.”



MS — “The first model was made with a traditional closed mould, but then it occurred to us that we could try another technique – “rowing” – based on the wrapping of threads around a full volume. Observing the threads that could be used, I found some bundles that were considered defective, where the thread was not perfectly linear, but seemed a little vibrated. This type of thread became the resource for the final production. The fibres are not all uniform: we wanted to utilize this “defect” which makes each lamp have a unique quality. We wanted to get away from the technical aspect, to bring the value of craftsmanship and a warm sense of material back into play, which is something people know how to do in Italy.” In an initial prototype, I had cut off the top at a 45° angle, inserting a car headlight. If I look at that first prototype again today it bothers me a little, but that’s absolutely normal because it represents the beginning of a long search path. To reach a simple product, a lot of work is required. At first, my sign was too strong, almost violent. Foscarini was very good at mediating it, and that’s just right, that’s what design is all about. It means striking the right balance between the parties on the field to work together on a common endeavour. Only by working with Foscarini, who knows how to treat light, who knows how to add taste to transparencies and warmth to texture, were we successful in making sure the product achieved its proper proportion and authenticity. We managed to get a much cleaner, clear-cut object, so the important thing is the light it produces, the transparency of the body and the vibration that can be seen in its design. Not an object that screams out loud, but rather a gentle element that glides into homes.”



MS — “After this lamp and after this approach to composite materials, I got back to some extent to the label of the designer who makes lamps with novel materials. This doesn’t bother me, and in fact it is what we love doing, together with Foscarini. So today, if in my research I find something interesting, or something that has not yet been utilized in the world of lighting, Foscarini is the company with which I can have the best chance of developing something original and innovative.”



MS — “Over the last 20 years, lighting technology has evolved a great deal, and now we use LEDs. With respect to the technology of the past, it is a bit like the difference between electronic injection and a carburettor. You could achieve excellent results with a carburettor, but it took a genius who knew how to listen to motors, and how to tune them by hand. For Mite something similar happened. In the first version we inserted a rather long light bulb, positioned at a certain height. To close the trunk, we shaped a circular chrome-finished metal plate, experimenting with ifferent angles, to reflect the direct light upward but also to make the light go down in the body of the lamp, letting it run over the material, with a back-lighting effect. Obviously that technology created limits of freedom of action, while today with LEDs we can take the luminous effect wherever we want it.”



MS — “I am happy with my work today because its seems like a return to the 1970s, when the entrepreneur had an important role and expressed clear intentions made of objectives, a schedule, the right budget, and knowing that he had worked well up to that point, wanted to go further, somewhere he had never gone before. Perhaps it is this very arduous moment of the pandemic, perhaps it is because I am starting to get tired of working with large multinational and oriental corporations, but I think the time has come to get back to direct, personal work with entrepreneurs.”


MS — “It’s fundamental. My work could be seen in terms of the principle of communicating vessels. I take something from one place, and I ‘pull’ it into another place, to see what happens. I have always done this, for my whole life. In my studio we have a workshop where with my hands I can build or repair anything, and this helps me a lot. It is not the concept of the ‘sky’s the limit’, but I think a lot before saying no to something, because often there are already solutions that exist elsewhere, so it is enough to know how to transfer them.”



MS — “In Mite the importance of the fabric comes from the advantage of being able to have a weave that vibrates the light when it passes through the body of the lamp, so it was no simple task to find the right fabric. But with the fabric, in its infinite variables, you can always do marvellous things with light, and in fact with Foscarini we are continuing to experiment and to develop new projects.”



MS — “The name comes from a word game in French, which my mother taught me when I was a boy, to help me remember the differencebetween mineral formations in caves, divided into those that grow from the bottom up, the stalagmites, and those that descend from above, the stalactites. Hence the idea for the name. While initially I was thinking about the logic of a form that tapers as it gets further away from the floor or ceiling – so the names of the two lamps had to be reversed – this logic works well for its typological affinities too: the (stalag)MITE rests on thefloor, and the (stalac)TITE hangs from the ceiling.”

It was in 1990 that Foscarini fi rst introduced its blown glass lamp, combined with an aluminium tripod, the result of a collaboration with designer Rodolfo Dordoni who reinterpreted the classic lamp shade in a new light. Its name? Lumiere.

Discover Lumiere

When and how did the Lumiere project begin (the spark, the people involved at the start)?

It began many years ago, so recalling all the people involved calls for an effort of memory that isn’t easy at my age, perhaps. I can tell you about the context, though. It was a period in which I had started working with Foscarini on a sort of corporate overhaul. They had called me in to coordinate things, which could mean a sort of art direction of the new collection, because they wanted to change the company’s approach.
Foscarini was a pseudo-Muranese business, in the sense that its home was Murano, but its mentality was not exclusively rooted there. We began to work on this concept: to conserve the company’s identity (that of its origins, therefore Murano and glass) while differentiating it from the attitudes of the other Murano-based fi rms (i.e. furnaces, blown glass), trying to add technological details to the product to give it character, making Foscarini into a “lighting” company, more than a producer of blown glass. This was the guiding concept for the Foscarini of the future, at the time.


Where was Lumiere invented? What led to its form-function (design constraints, the materials: blown glass and aluminium)?

Based on the guideline I have just described, we began to imagine and design products during our meetings. At one of those meetings – I think we were still in the old Murano headquarters – I made a sketch on a piece of paper, a very small drawing, it must have been about 2 x 4 cm: this glass hat with a tripod, just to convey the idea of combining glass and casting, because the casting of aluminium was a very contemporary, new idea at the time. So this little tripod with the casting and the glass wasn’t so much the design of a lamp as a drawing of a more general concept: “how to put together two elements that would represent the characteristics of the company’s future products”. In practice, that was the intuition.


One moment you remember more than others in the story of Lumiere (a conversation with the client, testing in the company, the first prototype)?

Well, definetely the moment when Alessandro Vecchiato and Carlo Urbinati showed interest in my sketch, in that intuition. I remember that Sandro took a look at the drawing and said: “That’s nice, we should make it”. The product was immediately glimpsed in that sketch. And I too thought the drawing could become a real product. So Lumiere was born.


We live in a society of rapid obsolescence. How does it feel to have designed a success that has continued for 25 years?

Those were truly diff erent times. When you designed something, the considerations of companies were also made in terms of investment, of its amortisation over time. So the things you designed were more extensively thought out. What has changed today is not the companies but the market, the attitude of the consumer, who has become more “mercurial”. Today’s consumer has been infl uenced by other merchandise sectors (i.e. fashion and technology) not to desire “lasting” things. So the expectations companies have regarding products are also defi nitely more short-term. When a product (like Lumiere) has such a long life in terms of sales, it means it is self-suffi cient, a product that wasn’t necessarily paying attention to trends, at the moment. That is precisely what makes it appealing, somehow. It brings pleasure, to the person who buys it and the person who designed it. Personally, I am pleased that Lumiere is a “sign” that is still recognizable, still has appeal: 25 years are a long time!


How has this context “made its mark” – if indeed it has – on the skin and mind of Rodolfo Dordoni, man and architect?

I think about two important moments that infl uenced my work. The fi rst is the encounter with Giulio Cappellini, who was my classmate at the university. After graduation, he asked me to work in his company. Thanks to this encounter I was able to learn about the world of design “from the inside”. I worked for 10 years, getting to know about all the aspects of the furniture sector. So my background is that of someone who knows, “in practice”, about the entire chain of design production. This led directly to the second of my important moments. Thanks to this practical experience, this work in the fi eld, when companies turn to me they know that they are not just asking for a product, but also for a line of reasoning. And often this reasoning leads to the construction of relationships with companies that become long discussions, long conversations, which help you to know the company. Knowing the company is a fundamental factor to analyse a project. I like to work – I’m a bit spoiled, in this sense – with people with whom I share similar intentions, similar goals to achieve. Then you have the possibility of growing together.


The Nineties:a Google search brings up the Spice Girls, Take That, Jovanotti with “È qui la festa?”, but also “Nevermind” by Nirvana and the track by Underworld in the soundtrack of the fi lm Trainspotting, “Born Slippy”. What comes to mind if you think about your experience of the Nineties?

For me the Nineties were the start of a progressive technological misunderstanding. Meaning that I started to no longer understand everything that happened from the vinyl LP onward, in music, technologically speaking. I often think back on how I criticized my father, when I was a kid, for being technologically backward. Compared to the way I am nowadays, his backwardness was nothing, if I think about my “technological inadequacy” as opposed to my nephews, for example. We might say that the Nineties were the start of my “technological isolation”!


What has remained constant for Rodolfo Dordoni the designer?

Drawing. The sketch. The line.

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