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21 February 2023
From work lamp to versatile lighting icon
The uniqueness of Richard Sapper‘s professional career is summarized very clearly in the motivation of the Compasso d’Oro for his career with which he was awarded in 2014 “for having combined German rigor and Italian genius in designing a multitude of extraordinary products of great success in areas that are also very distant from each other”. Sapper was born in Munich in 1932 and began working in the styling department of Mercedes Benz, his professional life seems to take the classic turn of a German designer until, in 1958, he began working in Italy, with Gio Ponti, for then start, in 1959, a fruitful collaboration with Marco Zanuso. Together, they sign a series of icons produced by Brionvega such as Doney 14 (1962), the first television operating solely on transistors. His projects are characterized by the encounter between technology and design and in 1972, thanks to the meeting with Ernesto Gismondi, founder of Artemide, he gives birth to the Tizio lamp.
The very particular name is due precisely to a provocation by Gismondi who claimed to be able to convince with this project “Tizio, Caio and Sempronio”, as if to say that he would have put anyone in agreement and satisfied. Gismondi was right, if it is true that today, after fifty years, Tizio is still a point of reference in lighting and over time its possibilities of use have extended towards interiors with different styles and different decorative solutions. That’s right, because Tizio was born as a technical desk lamp, but today it has become an icon no longer relegated to just the professional field.
In imagining it, Sapper started from his work experience as a designer, looking for “a design lamp that had a wide range of movement, and which, despite this feature, was not bulky”. The result is an articulated project, which revolves around the halogen bulb, which was being introduced on the market in those years, and an avant-garde idea of versatility. The extreme flexibility of the lamp is due to the structure divided into two arms, both dynamic, which therefore allow for a potentially infinite number of configurations. The aluminum of which it is made implies a remarkable overall lightness and the various elements are not held together by screws but by pressure joints. The switch is placed on the base, while in correspondence with the reflector, a metal rod allows you to easily direct the light.
In 2014, Ernesto Gismondi commented on Tizio’s success with these words: “When we introduced it, there was nothing like it on the market, it was revolutionary. Tizio is beautiful in any position, it is a harmonious object in all its parts, it moves with one hand and is always extremely precise. It’s not that we don’t change anything over the years because we can’t, we don’t change anything because that’s the way it is.” And in 2022 Artemide celebrated 50 years of this icon by launching a new chromatic version in a lively red, which is said to be a color much loved by Richard Sapper himself.
As we said, the Tizio lamp by Artemide was born as a desk light, deeply linked to the work of the designer who created it. But over the years it has taken on a much wider connotation, becoming a table lamp with a technical charm, but also, for those who have had the flair to experiment with it, a floor lamp. This is also thanks to the three size variants available and the different chromatic finishes. In a domestic design increasingly devoted to flexibility and the hybridization of work and private life spaces, the versatility of this lamp continues to be appreciated.
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