Arteluce

Gino Sarfatti founded his factory that specialised in illumination in 1939. His aim was to execute his own designs and to publish works by young colleagues who shared his love for minimalistic design and the shaping of lights. Actually, Sarfatti, who came from a wealthy family had started to study aviation ingeneering. When his father got into financial problems, Sarfatti abandoned his studies to earn money. In 1934, he became representative for Muranese factory ‚Lumen’ in Milan. By chance, Sarfatti, who was born in 1912, designed his first table light for a friend of his father’s, assembling a Murano vase as lamp base, a lamp shade and a reflector sheet that had belonged to a coffee machine. At the beginning of his career as business man, Sarfatti handled everything by himself. He designed lamps and organised the advertisement and the sale of his products at the same time. He had opened his own shop on Via Matteotti in Milan in 1953. Soon it became a venue for like-minded architects and designers like Franco Albini, Massimo Vignelli and Vittorio Vigano. Arteluce knew a fast success in the post-war era. Gio Ponti wrote an article on Sarfatti in his ‚Domus’ magazine. His break-through came when the autodidact received the ‚Compasso d’Oro' for his ‚559’ light in 1954.

Numerous models in our auction document the he factory founder's meticulous search for innovative lighting ideas. Thus, the rational design of the ‚1063’ floor light, consisting of a long illuminated staff on a base of painted metal is rather modern for the 1950s and is still gives main points in interiors today (lot 136).

Like-wise notorious and groundbreaking is the ‚2097’ ceiling light, here with 30 lightbulbs (lot 137). One of the typical features of Sarfatti is the exposed irregular electric cables that contrast most beautifully with the constructive frame of the lights. Many designs were not conceived, like one might think, in genially working alone at the drawing table, but in teamwork together with technicians and craftsmen, as Sarfatti told Jean-Francois Grunfeld in an interview: „ Shape is unimportant. It follows the idea. I have been thinking about lighting designs all my life, but I never drew a lamp...I spoke to my craftsmen and technicians, explained to them what I wanted and, one day the lamp was completed.“

Next to classics by Sarfatti, the auction displays also a large choice of table lights after a design by international creators and artists that Arteluce had manufactured in the fifties, sixties and seventies. In the early seventies, Germano Celant designed the grey table light that is going to be offered for an estimate of € 4000 (lot 140) after a draft of Russian constructivist, Alexander Rodtschenko. In the later years, it was being produced by Luceplan, thus, bearing the Arteluce label, our example must be a kind of a prototype. Milan architect Cini Boeri contributed the ‚602’ model (lot 145). Franca Helg, who held lectureships not only in Milan, but in South America, Munich and Barcelona, designed the ‚601’ model in 1963 (lot 141). In 1981, Bruno Gecchelin designed the ‚Bis’ floor light (lot 153). Gino Sarfatti sold his factory to Flos in 1974. The new owners continue Arteluce independently as a separate line of products. Family tradition is being held up by Sarfatti’s son Riccardo (passed away in September 2010), his wife, Sandra Severi Sarfatti and wellknown designer and architect Paolo Rizzatto who founded the Luceplan factory in 1978. Luceplan continues the innovational strength and creativity of Gino Sarfatti with their own products and the designs of young, international creators.

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