, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

img327Finally a long awaited book (top) by many lovers of Twentieth Century Italian lighting has been published by Silvana Editoriale. Weighing in at over 5 pounds and with 495 pages with a bi-lingual Italian and English text this book is a work of art. The softcover binding does not bode well for longevity on a heavy book like this. With hundreds of black and white photographs it is a sheer delight!

The authors Marco Romanelli (architect and design historian, ex-Editor of Domus Magazine) is qualified like no other having written important other books on Italian design. Co-author Sandra Severi, architect as well and director of the Sarfatti family archives is equally qualified.

Together they have produced the first extensive monograph on the work of the famous avant-garde Italian lighting designer Gino Sarfatti (1912-1985), not withstanding some earlier good publications like the one published by the Paris Galerie Krzentowski, a private collection of over 100 pieces. The publication of the book coincided with a recent exhibition of the designer’s lighting at the Milan Triennale Design Museum.

img328img329(The Milanese Design Museum)

For a good overview of some of the pieces on display (The Triennale website is somewhat too trendy) best to visit the CASABELLA Magazine website here.


Sarfatti’s lighting company Arteluce was one of the most innovative Italian lighting companies. It rose from a small avant-garde one person owned workshop in the late 1930’s to one of the world’s most innovative lighting companies in the 50’s and 60’s. Naturally there were other companies like OLuce, ArredoLuce, FontanaArte, Lumen, but most of these operated on different design principles.

Some of these products were unadulterated copies of Sarfatti’s design innovations. Other designers of the same period like Vinicio Vianello operated along similar principles, a strict adherence to quality in execution. Some of these companies were successful in the commercial onslaught that followed, others were not.

img333Having friends like the Italian design dealer Luciano of the Abaco Gallery (see Blogroll link) and expert German collectors like Hanno May has helped me over the years to sharpen my eye. It has given me the opportunity to see first hand and touch many of the intricate pieces which went through their hands into collections from Switzerland to Brussels and beyond, but this book tops it all. Kudos!

Occasionally very high priced pieces come up at better design auctions in London, Paris or at Wright Auctions in Chicago. You might also find some listed at 1stDibs or some New York Galleries but as always Caveat Emptor. A good source to try in my opinion is the Abaco Gallery, a good auction house would be the Aste Boetto in Italy where Design Director Sergio Montefusco holds the scepter. Sergio also recently published a book on Fontana Arte which we featured in a previous post.