Richard Sapper’s desk lamp for Italian lighting company Artemide became a staple accessory of Wall-Street desks in the decadent 80s… perhaps because it looked so uncompromisingly modern, and more than a little menacing.
But it really did take lighting a step further into the future when Sapper designed it in the early 70s. Its industrial, almost military minimalist looks were made possible by a number of technical innovations.
“I wanted a small head and long arms… And I wanted to be able to move it easily,” said Sapper. The small head was possible thanks to a halogen bulb – until that time used mostly in cars. And the clean elegance and easy-to-move arms thanks to an innovative way of using the arm itself to conduct electricity to the bulb without wires.
It remains one of Artemide’s best sellers (although now it comes with LED lights), and that’s because when design and technology dovetail to sum up the zeitgeist, you get an icon.