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The passing of a true genius

Well, 2015 finished on something of a sad note for many in the design fraternity as we learned of the passing of one of the giants of our industry and someone whose work has had a profound influence on many, myself included. Yes, as the new year dawned, we learned of the death of the industrial designer Richard Sapper (30 May 1932 – 31 December 2015).

Sapper was considered by many to be one of the most influential designers of his generation, his products typically featuring a combination of technical innovation, simplicity of form and an element of wit and surprise.

He received numerous international design awards during his life and his products form part of the permanent collections of many museums and galleries around the world.

If I had to select a single product from the many ‘classics’ that Sapper created during his illustrious career that epitomised his work, it would have to be the Tizio desk lamp created in 1972 for Italian lighting manufacturer Artemide. For me, this object encapsulates all that Sapper represented in his work. It is visually and functionally simple, it is elegant, and beautifully crafted. It is in many ways iconic and like many of the products he created appears to transcend time and style. It is as fresh and relevant a piece of design today as was when originally conceived nearly 45 years ago. The position and the direction of the bulb can be adjusted thanks to two counterweights. It uses a low voltage halogen bulb (the transformer providing the weighted base) which means that there are no wires, the electricity being conducted via the two parallel arms. This at the time was radical for a domestic fitting.

A great designer and a great loss to the profession.

Here are just a few of my favourites from his extensive back catalogue.