A Tribute to Gino Sarfatti – The Unqualified Lighting Design Virtuoso
4th Sep 2019
A lot of people reckon that fields like architecture and lighting design cannot be conquered without proper training and formal education. However, there are always exceptions and in this case, the exception is Italian designer Gino Sarfatti.
Breaking all norms of experimental philosophy into the world of lighting design, Sarfatti made his mark in this domain without any formal training. Born in the enchanting city of Venice in 1912, he was brought up in a fairly privileged household. He moved to Genoa in 1930 to learn aeronaval engineering. However, his education came to an abrupt halt at the age of 23 when the political situation worsened and his father’s business suffered losses.
Sarfatti then moved to Milan and founded Arteluce in February 1939 (acquired by FLOS in 1973 before he retired), under which he churned out over 400 designs. He had to flee to Switzerland subsequently in 1943 due to the unrest in Milan. However, he moved back to the city after the Liberation and invested his efforts in the company’s production.
From table and floor lamps to chandeliers and futuristic wall lights – Sarfatti has served up a platter of wide-ranging lighting designs. His creations have not only won him a lot of awards, but also earned him the respect of the best designers around the world.
Some of the notable awards won:
- 1063 - Grand Prix awards at the X Triennale, 1954
- 1065 - Grand Prix awards at the X Triennale, 1954
- 559 – ADI Compasso d’Oro
- Compasso d’Oro, 1954 and 1955
- Honorary Diploma of the Milan Triennale
- 1055 - Grand Prix awards at the X Triennale
Gino Sarfatti was widely regarded for his hands-on approach to lighting design, a method fueled by his hunger and desire to understand how things are made. This undaunted approach led to him inventing new typologies and delivering unforgettable designs.
Over the years, he produced a wide variety of lamps that were diverse and imaginative, but always focused on simplicity of form. Sarfatti’s specialty was his fearlessness and the will to break the rules while still creating designs that were truly iconic. Most of his lighting designs, including the likes of the 2097 chandelier and MOD 2129 pendant, blended recognizable geometric shapes and unprecedented ingenuity seamlessly.
Recognized and revered for his role in shaping the modern Italian architecture movement, Sarfatti believed in improvising and working closely with artists and technicians to develop his ideas. Even though some of his designs were conceptualized and created way back in the 1950s, they can still put any modern-day lamp to shame. Such was Gino Sarfatti’s vision, that his lighting designs are relevant and in circulation even today.
The master designer retired in the year 1973, selling his company Arteluce to the Italian lighting company, FLOS. The company continues to offer Sarfatti’s best work in the form of lighting fixtures such as the 2097 chandelier, MOD 548 table lamp, MOD 607 table lamp and MOD 1063 floor lamp.
Sarfatti lived in his house in Griante (Lake Como, Italy) before his death in 1985.
Although he is gone, his inimitable creations continue to live on.
Note- The FLOS products MOD 548 table lamp, MOD 607 table lamp and MOD 1063 floor lamp are no longer available, but explore his other classic lamps here.