Biography

"Ingo Maurer plays with light the way he dances. He feints, he swirls, pretends to be a dilettante, but is, in fact, perfectly familiar with the music." (Dessecker 2008). This quote by Marie-Claude Beau connects everything that characterizes the work of lighting artist Ingo Maurer.

The designer, who grew up on the island of Reichenau on Lake Constance, came to industrial design via detour. He was trained as a typographer and then studied graphic design in Munich between 1954 and 1958. Two years later he emigrated to the USA to work as a freelance designer in New York and San Francisco, finally returning to Munich in 1963.

There he founded the company Design M, which was later renamed Ingo Maurer GmbH. Already one of his first designs, the 'Bulb‘ (1966) eventually became a design icon and added to the Design Collection of the Museum of Modern Art just a short time later. Later works such as the low-voltage lighting system 'YaYaHo' (1984) or the hologram light 'Wo bist du, Edison, ….?' (1997) followed. Today, a large number of his works can be found in international collections.

Like no other designer, Ingo Maurer's creations have also become an integral part of the city of Munich. Among others, he equipped several subway stations or even the Residenztheater with his lighting concepts. In 2019, a comprehensive retrospective of his work took place at the Neue Sammlung.

Ingo Maurer's work has always been characterized by his passion for the light of the light bulb, which was the center of his designs for many decades. As an expression of simplicity and logic, the light bulb accompanies Ingo Maurer's work as an object (‘Lucellino' (1992)) or quotation ('Holonzki' (2000)), as an illuminant and at the same time as a symbol of his work, and never lost its appeal for him. However, he also integrated new technologies such as LED and halogen in his work, which can be seen, among others, in the 'XXL Dome’ ceiling light (1999). Two versions of this light were sold for 12,000 EUR in 2015.

Ingo Maurer's conviction lies in combining high-tech and poetry, which is why he saw himself less as a designer and more as a 'lighting artist'. The source material for his works is extremely wide-ranging, from everyday objects such as Campari bottles or tea strainers to gold and porcelain.

A peculiarity of his lights is that they are usually provided with a large pinch of humor and parody. Therefore, a large number of his designs, such as 'Bibibibi' (1982) or 'Porca Miseria!’ (1994) make you smile. As a result, Ingo Maurer does not only focus on the function of his lights, but always puts the effect on people in the foreground of his interest. When asked why he uses paper for his lampshades, as he did in his design for the ceiling lamp 'Hana 1' (1974), he once answered with: "It makes people look better" (Dessecker 2008).

Carina Schlager, B.A.


Objects by Ingo Maurer