Italian lighting design is steeped in a long and rich history of innovation and tradition. With the rise of Milan as a centre of design in the mid-20th century, designers took up the responsibility of creating fresh and exciting lighting solutions for the innovative domestic interiors they were creating.
Numerous iconic design houses specialising in lighting flourished in Italy in the post-war years, such as Fontana Arte, Stilnovo, Arteluce and Oluce, and they were led by pioneering figures including Max Ingrand, Gino Sarfatti and Gaetano Sciolari, whose ground breaking innovations on the play of light shaped the field globally for decades to come. The variety and quality of lamps and chandeliers produced, from Stilnovo’s iconic ‘Sputnik’ lights to Fontana Arte’s globular ceiling lights and Magistretti’s ‘Atollo’ lamps, demonstrates the versatility and vibrancy in the field, and the adaptability and possibilities of being able to incorporate them into almost any interior.
What distinguishes these Italian lighting designers is their concern both with the form and aesthetic qualities of the light, and the technical aspects of the quality of light and shade itself, whether the nuances of the glow and reflectors or new potential achievable with halogen and neon. This coming together of art and science, stems from many of the designers having originally trained as architects, and an ingrained cross-disciplinary nature in the Italian arts.
Viewed through a contemporary lens most of the works remain as fresh today as when they were first conceived, and due to their innovative approaches mid-century Italian lighting can still be a perfect accompaniment to any modern interior.
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