Richard Sapper

*1932

Design legend from Germany

The German industrial designer Richard Sapper, who currently lives in Milan, is considered as one of the leading designers of our time. Sapper was born in Munich in 1932 and then moved to the Italian city of Milan in the 1950s. As an industrial designer, Sapper worked for a number of well-known brands and companies, including Mercedes-Benz, Alessi, Siemens, IBM and the Italian light manufacturer Artemide. As a light designer, Sapper particularly attracted attention by creating the Tizio light for Artemide. The unique table lamp was already designed in 1972 and is nowadays regarded as a modern classic of light design. The timeless design language of the Tizio outlasts short-lived trends and is today – more than 40 years after its introduction – still a real eye-catcher. The Tizio was one of the very first lights to be operated with halogen lamps in the low-voltage range – an innovation for that time. Meanwhile, the Tizio is available in different versions, for instance, there is the Tizio LED using energy-saving LED technology.

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Time and again, Sapper was able to create new trends with his designs and to defy conventions. By means of the design for the first ThinkPad by IBM, he fundamentally changed the design philosophy of the US American IT giant. Up to that time, almost all IBM PC housings – just like all other PC housings – were grey, until Sapper came up with an unobtrusive, black design. His design has caught on – even today the ThinkPad look still resembles the original Sapper design. Until today, the computer technology company Lenovo, which took over the personal computer business of IBM, receives specialist advice from Sapper in connection with design issues. Many of Sapper’s designs received different awards, amongst others, the Compasso d'Oro and the Lucky Strike Award of the Raymond Loewy Foundation. Numerous renowned museums have included Sapper’s works in their permanent exhibitions, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London as well as the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Sapper was honoured for his lifetime achievements several times and received e.g. the Lifetime Achievement Award by the German Design Council. In 2012, Sapper was then awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. Richard Sapper’s style can hardly be reduced to any specific keywords. The functionality of the product forms the heart of the design. Technical innovations and a clear design language are important cornerstones of Sapper’s design philosophy. While creating his designs, Sapper rarely follows the usual conventions and regularly adopts new approaches. If you compared several designs by Sapper without having detailed knowledge of his work, it would be hard to tell that they were all created by the same designer. When he was asked about this matter during an interview, Sapper replied: "I simply love variety, and one product category soon becomes too restrictive and too one-sided for me."

Artemide Tizio – a classic among the table lamps

A special highlight in Sapper’s career is the creation of the Tizio table lamp for the Italian high-class manufacturer Artemide. The design language of the extraordinary table lamp is reminiscent of the plain, geometrical aesthetic of a construction crane. The wide-reaching arm of the Tizio is balanced out by a counterweight that is attached at the end of the arm. The geometrical severity of the design is thereby enhanced through a certain dynamism and lightness. Designed already in 1972, the Tizio was one of the first light fixtures to use halogen lamps in the low-voltage range. The power is supplied via the two light arms – cables are thus no longer necessary. The Tizio was introduced to the public in a time, in which the halogen bulb was a true innovation that was mainly used for car headlights. Sapper once commented on this as follows: "If you need a spare bulb for the Tizio, you need to go to the petrol station." When designing the Tizio, Sapper was primarily aiming at creating an effective but still space-saving light for desks and work tables. He prefers it when the light directly illuminates his working surface, while the rest of the room is hardly illuminated. The light fixture was supposed to have a large working radius and it should be easily adjustable – the result of his considerations is impressively represented by the Artemide Tizio. The Tizio turned out to be a really successful design and is even today one of the best-selling lights that were ever produced. Thanks to its absolutely timeless design, this classy table lamp by Artemide is still a real eye-catcher that smoothly blends into any interior design concept. By now, the Tizio is available in various versions, for instance, as an energy-saving version using LED technology (Artemide Tizio LED). The Tizio Plus table lamp by Artemide impresses with improved adjustment possibilities since the light head is even more flexible. Thanks to its low height, the smallest member of the Tizio family, the Artemide Tizio Micro, can also be used in areas where particularly little space is available.
 

Artemide Tizio X30 – a collector’s item for design enthusiasts

A special treat for fans of the Tizio and the designs by Richard Sappers is the Artemide Tizio X30 special edition: this special version of the sophisticated table lamp has an elegant silver surface instead of the familiar black one. The special edition of the Tizio is provided with an engraved signature from Sappers and is thus a real collector’s item. The Artemide Tizio Terra complements the construction by a solid stand. The Tizio thus becomes an innovative reading light that ensures optimum light conditions in your reading corner at home. The stand is also available separately – this way each Tizio can be converted into a Tizio Terra in only a few steps. All lights from the Tizio series penned by Richard Sappers stand out due to a long service life. The low-voltage halogen technology used provides for an excellent light quality with a brilliant colour rendering. Moreover, halogen lamps in the low-voltage range are significantly more energy efficient than conventional incandescent lamps: you can save up to 30 % of energy; if you use eco halogen lamps you can even save up to 50%.
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