Milan 2013: Davide Groppi’s poetic minimalism

Davide Groppi Miss pendant light

Whether through a misunderstanding of Adolf Loos‘ dictum that ornament is crime, or because of a fear of being accused of mishandling content, meaning, interest, colour…, minimalism has been used as an excuse for removing things (even to only daring to wear black). The results are drab and boring — often downright ugly if it is a 1960s building in rain-stained concrete.

Truly minimalist works are the hardest of all to create, but when they are done well, by a master, magic things happen.

Davide Groppi is just such a master. Have a look at the his Miss pendant at the top of the post. The luminaire comprises the simplest metal tube, in matt black or matt white, H75cm Ø2.5cm, and a pool of light on the table below it. At first glance there seems to be no connexion between them.

Davide Groppi Miss pendant light

Then the mind registers that there is a connexion — an invisible one, but no less real for that. It is the effect found in the finest depictions of the Annunciation — here, Donatello‘s in Santa Croce…

Donatello Annunciation Santa Croce

…where the most powerful element, the communication, the spark that passes between the eyes of the angel and Madonna, is in fact not physically present.

But the spark that Davide Groppi creates is no flash in the pan — he has form! Here is his Nulla spot light illuminating a table top: Continue reading

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Milan 2013: Oluce’s commitment to customizing — their “bespoke tailoring”.

Oluce bespoke tailoring 08

When something is done well, it looks very easy. Many Italian lighting companies are reacting to the current economic climate, and the reduction of lighting retailers in Italy, by deciding to be more open to contract work. But many of them do not know how to set about doing it.

Oluce came to the same conclusion, but they know exactly how to do it! So, what are they doing?

First, they are making it absolutely clear that they really are interested in making special versions of their lights. They have branded the offer “bespoke tailoring” because this evokes both what they will be doing — custom pieces, not just “off the peg” — but also the quality standards of the best tailors. You can read their announcement of the service here.

Then, they created a special area of their stand for the “bespoke tailoring” offer. I’ve selected the picture at the top of this post because it includes Francesco Rota‘s fine Canopy pendant light of 2009 . It is really a shot of a table in this special area.

But it did not only have a proper table and chairs (essential though these are). Nor did they just have Coupé 3321s in very unusual colours and metal finishes. They had also  laid out the cloths, finishes and materials you could choose from, as your tailor does his cloths. I counted fourteen paint colours, ten metal finishes, fifty six anodizations, plus marbles, stones…

This was a display set into a wall:

Oluce bespoke tailoring wall display

And here, samples are under glass set into a large table:

Oluce bespoke tailoring table display Continue reading

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Milan 2013: Quasar go from strength to strength

Quasar stand at Euroluce 2013 1 c 560

Quasar don’t really need to change to meet the new economic environment. They have their own way of doing things and they regularly launch designs that most other manufacturers would regard as too risky.

In the end, though, it is about making lights so beautiful, so stunning that they are irresistible — no-one thinks about how they got there.  Unfortunately, many of the world’s most spectacular lights do not always photograph well, so above is an amateur picture taken of Quasar’s stand at Euroluce, dominated by the two Universe Squares with glass rods, that drew people onto the stand as soon as they caught sight of it — resistance was futile. Here they are from a different angle:

Quasar stand at Euroluce 2013 2 c 560

You see that person on the left gazing up at it? He is doing this because it is as fascinating close up — beautiful, but also a puzzle: how exactly does it do what it does…? Cleverly, is this answer — this is one of a series by Jan Pauwels, who can do clever things.

For example, he realized that the Universe Square is big (100cm x 1000cm) but that people in humble dwellings might like their own Universe. So Orion was launched at Euroluce:

Quasar Orion chandelier Jan Pauwels

It is only 175x30x30cm so it would go over a rectangular table. Recognizing that merely scaling down would not provide such an interesting object, Orion is not symmetrical — some of its dimensions seem to have greater energy than others. It would make a good starship. Again, good pictures are difficult to find, but here it is on the Quasar stand anyway, partly reflected in a mirror: Continue reading

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Milan 2013: Cini&Nils 2.0

Cini&Nils FormaLa wall light set

As will become clear from these post-Milan 2013 posts, companies are responding to the current markets, which are difficult, and changing fast, in different ways. It is not always predictable who will respond in a good way, but we will be celebrating some who are.

Milan-based Cini&Nils is one of them. They are purists. they make a light fitting when such a light fitting is necessary. The requirement defines the luminaire — how it functions, what it looks like, what it is made of. They make them very well. And there is space for beautiful detailing — look at a particular favourite of ours, the Gradi Scrivania, for example:

Cini&Nils gradi scrivania table task lightAs a result, they have inspired passionate advocacy from the architects, lighting designers and interior designers who have understood them. This approach has also resulted in their being trail blazers, as the logic of a design has taken them where no-one has gone before — the first 230V cable track lighting, for example.

The trouble is that most people choose a light by what it looks like, not by what it does. So Cini&Nils is reinventing itself (hence Cini&Nils 2.0) as it creates new designs that explore what is possible with LEDs.

For example, look at the picture at the head of this post. It is a composition made up from FormaLa, a flexible strip that has LEDs on one side.

Cini&Nils FormaLa wall light

You can curve it as you like. It will project light from one side, to contrast with the dark on the other.

Cini&Nils FormaLa wall light shapes

The result is bang on trend — modules which allow dramatic effects over wide areas of wall and ceiling, depending upon the number and placing of the modules used. It will be available in four lengths — from 138cm to 540cm.

Actually, it is bang on another trend as well — lights which cast dramatic light effects on the surfaces around them, a trend that is also demonstrated by Naica, but with a different (random, ethereal) type of pattern:

Continue reading

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Milan 2013: what is Baccarat doing?

Baccarat Campana bros galaxia and cosmo pendant light Nave and Amuleto table lights

Good question. The short answer is emulating where Venini were two years ago — even working with the same people. Above are two pendants (Galaxia and Cosmo) and two table lights (Nave and Amuleto) which were created by the Campana brothers after they were asked to come and play with some existing Baccarat designs and components. The result was the Fusion series which brings together “French Art de Vivre and Brazilian force of nature” — cut crystal with wicker and bamboo, basically.

What do you think? Do you want to rush out and buy one?

One result that was interesting is the Fusion version of the classic Zénith chandelier…

Baccarat Zenith Fusion chandelier by FERNANDO and HUMBERTO CAMPANA

…in which crystal arms have been replaced by bamboo arms. But how interesting is it really? Surely the different properties of the materials could have been brought together in a new design that would have been beautiful… interesting…challenging…?

Louise Campbell also had a go at a Zénith. This is her Nervous Zénith:

Louise Campbell Nervous Zenith chandelier Baccarat

It is a one-off. She went to the factory, got some wonky bits made (you can see some angled alberts hanging down at the bottom), added an extra light at the top. And a candle… But to what end?

For some reason, Baccarat do not seem to be getting the best out of the designers they are working with. This is particularly true with Philippe Starck, who asked for a black Zénith a few years ago justifiably to great acclaim, but who now seems to be just taking the piss. He has riffed again on the Zénith to create one version with antlers added (Zénith sur la Lagune) and this one, Zénith le samedi, that has a LED-lit cable running through it:

etrange zenith le samedi chandelier Baccarat Philippe Starck


One explanation is that Baccarat want to update their existing designs.

Jean Marc Gady has created a Lady Crinoline Comète by simplifying Crinoline and hanging three together (there are single and double versions also):

Lady Crinoline Comete Baccarat pendant light

which is the first of the lights we’ve looked at here which is likely to be bought in any numbers. But then he tries a LED version:

Baccarat Lady Crinoline Comete LED pendant light

This just isn’t good enough. Maybe the LEDs have to be few centimetres above the crystal but surely  something more elegant (or ironic? or witty? or something?) to mount them in could have been devised? If not, the idea should have been parked.

Thank goodness for Philippe Nigro. He has created this pretty little Clochette that can be hung singly or in clusters:

Clochette pendant light Baccarat Philippe Nigro

and a crystal lantern (there are not many of those!) with a hook on top called Céleste, that can stand on a table or be hung up:

Baccarat lantern  Celeste by Philippe Nigro

Here are examples of both lit up:

Baccarat Philippe Nigro Clochette pendant lights and Céleste crystal lantern

Somebody at Baccarat must have realized that people might think that the Company has lost the plot, so the first exhibit, in a room all of its own , with mirrored black walls, was a magnificent 64-light Zénith, with hurricane shades added;

Zenith 64 light crystal chandelier Baccarat

Or maybe they remembered that two years after Venini were doing the same thing — getting the Campana brothers to play with bits of their glass and exhibiting the results in a nearby palazzo — they seem to have given up on new lighting altogether.

You are probably thinking that I’ve been hard on Baccarat. It’s more disappointment, of being let down, really. One of the greatest names in our world of fine lighting should be showing the way forward with creativity, self-confidence and generating excitement. Instead, they are marking time — fatal, surely, in the current economic climate.


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Milan 2013: DCW reissues Bernard Schottlander’s Mantis lights of 1951

Schottlander floor light in three positions

DCW Éditions, who brought back to us the Lampe Gras, are now re-editing another very important mid-century collection, this one dating from 1951, designed by the German-born Englishman, Bernard Schottlander.

He was an artist, engineer, and fan of Alexander Calder’s, who devised a clever system of counterweights that are combined with a series of strong and flexible metal bars. To these are attached aluminium shades. He creates a helical movement in which the symmetrical and the asymmetrical are in opposition. Very much of their period, you can understand how useful such designs, from a reliable supplier, will be.

DCW are issuing three of Bernard Schottlander’s five Mantis designs:

Schottlander range of Mantis wall, floor and table light

The picture at the head of this post is of the floor version– it appears to have three lights because it is showing how the light can be put in different positions.

The three little feet are more elegant, but for contract purposes (where they may get rougher treatment), a round foot, like the one on the table version , can be supplied:

Schottlander Mantis round base

From this close-up you can see that, to alter its angle, the main arm is positioned in one of three holes.

Here is the table version: Continue reading

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Milan 2013: Gubi bring back the Turbo pendant

Gubi Turbo pendant light

We are delighted that Gubi will be relaunching the Turbo pendant this autumn. Designed by  Louis Weisdorf in 1965, it was first issued by Lyfa in 1967 and was most recently available from Bald & Bang.

There is a well-researched article about it in the excellent Vintage Danish Lights Blog. It quotes Weisdorf as naming Turbo his favourite of the lights he designed, saying: “I prefer the Turbo because of its logical simplicity, which makes it more timeless than many of my other lights.”

Gubi Turbo Louis Weisdorf Turbo pendant light Formland fair 2006

We expect Gubi to stick to the original design, so there will be two sizes, Ø35cm and Ø60cm. The twelve aluminium vanes are so arranged that, though the light gets out, you can never see the lamp, so there is never any glare.

Both sizes came in white, but originally the smaller one also came in orange, red and beige — very Verner Panton (with whom Louis Weisdorf worked).

Inspired by Japanese lanterns and the work of Poul Henningsen (with whom he also worked), it looks as sculptural and elegant off…

Gubi Turbo pendant light off

…as it does on:

Gubi Turbo pendant light on



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Milan 2013’s most exciting lighting trend: graphic!

Vibia Wireflow pendant light Arik Levy

“Graphic” is probably not the best name for this trend: it’ll be easier to understand what I mean from the pictures.

Above is Wireflow by Arik Levy for Vibia. Three were hanging over the desk on their stand. It is as if someone is drawing in the air. They look two dimensional, though an unexpected effect is to increase awareness of the space that they are in. They are big:

Vibia Wireflow pendant lights with Arik Levy

Earlier that day, we had been delighted by Davide Groppi‘s N-euro by Beppe Merlano. That is it going up the wall in the back of this picture taken on their stand:

N-EURO pendant light from Davide Groppi

You get the lighting body on one end of a lot of black cable, with a plug to go into a socket at the other end. The round wall attachments allow you to draw across the wall and ceiling, the pattern depending upon where you choose to put them.

N-EURO pendant light from Davide Groppi

But it is not one swalowe that bryngeth in somer. Any more than two lights make a trend. But a third…? This was Michael Anastassiades for FlosString Light: Continue reading

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Milan 2013: Euroluce and Fuori Salone PDF Handy Guides and summaries

Euroluce name in colours

This is the sixth of the series of posts published this week that have built up into our Handy Guide to Euroluce 2013. Individual  posts have looked at who is in each of halls nine, eleven, thirteen and fifteen — the main Euroluce event at the Rho fairground — and the most recent one looked at what is happening in Milan itself at the same time.

This final post in the series makes all the content available in PDF form. Don’t worry — the PDFs take up a lot less space and are better laid out!

There are also summaries by hall (so that you can decide which halls you want to visit and how much time to allocate to them) and an alphabetical listing covering all locations.

This post will remain up throughout the week of the Fair so that you can download the PDFs , or read them on your mobile thingy, at any time.

There is no way that you will have time to see all the stands that I have identified. I’ve resisted the temptation to prepare a Top Ten. On the other hand, where I think that a stand is essential, I have said so and explained why. The idea is that you can go through the Handy Guide in advance, look at the web sites, and decide what you want you see. 

For the PDF Handy Guide to Hall 9, click on EUROLUCE MILAN 2013 HALL 9 .

For the PDF Handy Guide to Hall 11, lick on EUROLUCE MILAN 2013 HALL 11 .

For the PDF Handy Guide to Hall 13, click on EUROLUCE MILAN 2013 HALL 13

For the PDF Handy Guide to Hall 15 and lighting stands in some other halls, click on EUROLUCE MILAN 2013 HALL 15 and OTHER HALLS .

For the PDF Handy Guide to what is happening in Milan itself, click on EUROLUCE MILAN 2013 fuori salone .

For the PDF Handy Guide summary of Euroluce by hall, click on EUROLUCE MILAN 2013 summary by hall .

For the PDF Handy Guide alphabetical summary of Euroluce and Fuori Salone, click on EUROLUCE MILAN 2013 alphabetical summary .

This is the biggest event in the world for interior design. It only happens once every two years. It is the only chance to see how large, how dynamic — how exciting — our industry can be. Instead of being in our own offices and studios, everybody — specifiers, designers and manufacturers — all come together, professionally during the day and partying during the night.

People who are normally phoning and emailing each other from different countries and continents are, for one week, in the same place, maybe meeting face-to-face for the same time.

There is no more efficient way to find out what products are available, what the trends are, and to experience what others are doing for yourself. It is a unique opportunity for us all, specifier, designer and manufacturer alike, to make up our own minds about the direction our work will go in next.

Yes, it’s tiring , but what a charge — what renewed energy — it gives us all!

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Milan 2013: Fuori Salone

Euroluce name in colours

This is the fifth of a series of posts to be published this week that will build up into our Handy Guide to Euroluce 2013. This one looks at what is happening in Milan itself at the same time. Other posts look at who is in halls nine, eleven, thirteen and fifteen — the main |Euroluce event at the Rho fairground. The last post in the series will pull all the content together into one document, with updates and corrections. This will then form the basis for our customary PDFs — alphabetical, and by hall — for you to use at the Fair. 

That last post in the series will remain up throughout the week of the Fair so that you can download the PDFs , or read it on your mobile thingy, at any time.


The Milan Furniture Fair “fringe” is becoming as important as the Fairs themselves. Even if manufacturers are showing at the Fair, many also have a separate presence in Milan, where they may display more experimental things (one year, Foscarini did a display of their lights all in white, for example) and where they hold their parties.

Basically, they will intend their presence outwith the Fair to be more cool, and sometimes their products will be displayed in more relevant spaces. Baccarat chandeliers will probably look better in the Palazzo Morando, than on their stand in a big trade fair hall, for example.

You can end up walking quite a long way (and the forecast is for rain throughout the week this year) and then find an empty shop with many examples of one design artfully displayed – i.e. a total waste of time. In other cases, the Milan presence is in their own permanent showrooms, often allowing one to see more of the collection than was on the stand. Then there are companies who only show in Milan, rather than at the fair ground, so you won’t see what they are doing unless you track them down.

There is no way this summary can be complete – it relies on what we have been told. Always pick up the guide published by Interni magazine (there are others), of which there will be free copies at every destination, and at hotels, &c. There will also be banners outside participating locations.

I have grouped these entries by the main locations. There is a miscellaneous section at the end.


Atelier Areti EDIT, La Pelota, Via Palermo 10

Innermost EDIT

Kalmar EDIT

EDIT’s web site:


Lee Broom Spazio Pontaccio, Via Pontaccio 18

Nendo Spazio Pontaccio

Roll & Hill Spazio Pontaccio

Spazio Pontaccio’s web site:

Foscarini Via Pontaccio 19

Memphis Spazio Understate, Viale Francesco Crispi 5/b, corner of Via Varese

In spite of my pointing out for years that the products of the great period of Memphis – of Ettore Sottsass, Michele De Lucchi, Matteo Thun &c. – are still available, no client has ever expressed any interest whatsoever. Maybe that’s good thing – maybe their work still shocks and appals. Time, and exposure in books, museums, &c. has not made them desirable – even acceptable – to the mainstream. To see if you are mainstream, go and see the finest pieces from this collection. Cocktails at 19:00 on Friday.

Produzione Privata Via Varese 15

Exceptional pieces (by no means just lighting) from the exceptional architect/designer/artist, Michele De Lucchi. Creating his “private production” out of his studio enables him to work with fine craftspeople and materials. He only ever show on the ground floor of the studio, so this is an essential destination.

Corso Como 10 Corso Como 10

One hardly needs an excuse to visit this concept store, but there is a compelling one anyway this year – an Angelo Mangiarotti retrospective. (He designed the iconic – and much copied – Giogali system for Vistosi, made up a glass hooks.)


This metro station is selected as the hub out from which runs the luxury shopping streets of Via Monte Napoleone, Via Della Spiga, &c. plus the lighting shopping street of Corso Monforte.

Aqua Creations Boutique Mimí, Via Gesù 3

Artemide showroom, Corso Monforte 19

Baccarat Palazzo Morando, Via Sant’Andrea 6,en,sc.html

Barovier & Toso showroom, Via Durini 5, also: Russki Dom, Palazzo Visconti, Via Cino del Duca 8

EOQ Entratalibera, Corso Independenza 16 (go to the end of Corso Monforte. Corso Independenza splits: Entratalibera is on the south side)

A young company producing excellent designs by Michael Young, using very high quality production facilities that normally make delicate aluminium pieces – e.g. fascias for technical equipment. Simple, elegant, clean – and colourful (Oh no. I shouldn’t have said colourful…. You’ll not go now.)

Flos showroom, Corso Monforte 9

Ingo Maurer Spazio Krizia, Via Manin 21 (a bit of a walk, round the park, but essential – you’ll be surprised, delighted…)

Lindsey Adelman Nilufar, Via della Spiga 32 www.lindseyadelman.comThe web site of Nilufar, an important destination in its own right, is

Luceplan showroom, Corso Monforte 7

Venini showroom, Via Monte Napoleone 9

ZONA TORTONA to avoid that terrible bridge, go to Metro Sant’Agostino (M2), cross the big road, and walk down the south side of the little park.

David Trubridge Superstudiopiu’

We have been thrilled to see the increasing levels of awareness and appreciation of David’s work. There is a higher proportion of pieces available in kit form, which dramatically reduces the shipping costs (bearing in mind that he is based in New Zealand). They are as environmentally sound as they look. There is also a playfulness, and an elegance, the sense of the sea…. Plus the virtues of wood – no wonder he is so popular in Scandinavia. By the way, his works are now in our LIGHT FINDER.

Superstudiopiu’ web site:

Lasvit Via Gaspare Bugatti 15

Moooi Via Savona 56

1700 sq m housing their “special welcome”…

Contemporary Japanese Design Via Volhera 4

VENTURA LAMBRATE go to Metro Lambrate (M2), then cross the railway tracks.

Catellani & Smith Casa della Luce, Via Ventura 5


Woka Vienna Design Week, Via Privata Oslavia 17

Lobmeyr Vienna Design Week

Vienna Design Week in Milan web page:



Davide Groppi Chiostri dell’Umanitaria, Via S. Barnaba — Metro Crocetta (M3) or trams 12, 23 or 27 to Vittoria (Palazzo Giustizia)

This will be a fabulous display of wonderful, minimal lights in a series of cloisters – -magical at dusk!  Have a look at t the “ichiostri” web site ( to see what I mean – not just a café but cloisters with gardens: “a location full of atmosphere of mystery”. Not just a lighting collection, but also a corner of Milan worth discovering.

Davide Groppi Via Medici 13 — Metro Crocetta (M3) or trams 2, 3 or 14 to Torino Carrobbio

…and here they will be displaying lighting that is particularly suited to restaurants.

Prandina Triennale — Metro Cadorna (M1, M2)

One of the best Italian lighting companies, at one of the most important design destinations in the world. The Triennale (recently remodelled internally by Michele De Lucchi) always has lots of interesting things happening during this design week – plus the bookshop and a great café with a large outside area by the park.

The Triennale’s web site:


Tom Dixon MOST, Museo natzionale della Scienza e dalle Tecnologia, via Olona 6B — Metro Sant’Ambrogio (M2)

Sander Mulder MOST

Brokis MOST

Brokis is a particularly interesting new brand from the Czech Republic: very high quality glass working and very good, clever, witty designs. New introductions of theirs will also be shown at the Fair on the stand of Misuraemme (hall 7, stands G09 and H16).

Spazio Rossana Orlandi Via Matteo Bandello 14/16 — Metro Sant’Ambrogio (M2) or Conciliazione (M1)

Another essentuial venue where this year, amongst other things, Baroncelli will be showing Innovo, combining LEDs and bits of old chandeliers.

Windfall Palazzo Durini, Via Santa Maria Valle 2 — Metro Missori (M3)

The single most important destination. Windfall creates the finest works in contemporary crystal in the world. You want to go there with your head to see what is possible. You want to go there with your heart to experience the thrill of crystal and light (plus beautiful people).


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