29 settembre 2022
by Guendalina Dainelli

Genius of the Lamp

Tizio - Artemide 
Tizio - Artemide 

It often appears on the desks of the most powerful, like François Mitterand at the Elysée, yet its name it so playful as to seem almost irreverent. Aeronautical engineer Ernesto Gismondi, who founded Artemide, wanted a product that could “convince any Tom Dick and Harry” and meet anyone’s desk lamp needs.

Ernesto Gismondi, who founded Artemide, wanted a product that could “convince any Tom Dick and Harry” and meet anyone’s desk lamp needs

The Tizio desk lamp turns 50 this year, appearing on the market in a special red version, the favorite color of designer Richard Sapper, the man who created it. Tizio is as much a masterpiece of the Atermode collection as an icon of Italian design.

As Gismondi said a few years ago, “There was nothing like it when we introduced it. It was revolutionary. Tizio looks beautiful in any position, a harmonious object in all its parts that you can move with one hand and is always extremely precise. We haven’t changed it one bit over the years because it is perfect the way it is.”

Tizio looks beautiful in any position

An elegant synthesis of intelligent components. A timeless product, a real classic, featured in the Permanent Design Collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York CIty. An object that implies Sapper’s taste for mechanics, as his designer career started as at Mercedes Benz styling department in Stuttgart before moving to Milan in 1958, where he collaborated with the likes of architects Gio Ponti and Marco Zanuso and won two Golden Compasses.

Tizio was one of the first desk lamps to use halogen bulbs, back in 1972, with arms carrying low voltage and eliminating the need for wires. Today, it is one of the best-selling lamps ever. "I wanted a desk lamp that could be adjusted with the touch of a finger and that wouldn't fall on the desk because of worn joints," was Sapper’s comment on the many anecdotes surrounding the lamp’s creation.

From jars of jam filled with water to adjust the counterweights to the addition of the rod with the red ball on the head, to prevent contact with the support surface, a safety measure required by the Danish government, which became a standing feature. Tizio’s morphology combines solid primitive elements, both geometric and curved as well as angular and soft, creating a harmonious visual balance. Because collectible design has the one absolute rule that everything must remain exactly as it is, even in an era of planned obsolescence.

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