Italian light manufacturer
Arteluce was a premier Italian lighting company founded in 1939 by the entrepreneurial Italian light designer Gino Sarfatti. Since its inception, Arteluce lighting company developed a new and exciting modernist language in lighting design that endured until the early 1970s. Arteluce lamps, pendants, chandeliers, sconces, and other lighting fixtures designed mostly by Gino Sarfatti himself or by Vittoriano Viganò were, and continue to be, highly sought-after due to their innovative designs and the sense of possibility that they inspire.
To understand Arteluce, one needs to know about its creative founder Gino Sarfatti. He was born in Venice 1912, into a prosperous family, but when he was 18 years old he moved to Genoa with the dream to study the then new science of aeronautical engineering.
Unfortunately, as the 1930s progressed the political situation in Italy impacted negatively his family’s economic situation and forced Gino Sarfatti to abandon his studies. In the face of this new reality, the young Sarfatti saw an opportunity in designing and making Modernist lighting fixtures that would meet the rapidly changing taste sweeping throughout Italy and Europe at the time.
Gino Sarfatti founds lighting maker Arteluce
His design talent and drive promptly rewarded him with success and, in February 1939, Sarfatti moved his manufacturing facility to Milan, founded the lighting studio Arteluce, and opened a new retail shop on the trendy Corso Littorio #12 location—now Corso Matteotti.
In 1943, Gino Sarfatti, whose father was jewish, was forced by the Fascist government to leave Milan and fled with his family to Switzerland. He remotely managed Arteluce with the help of his assistant, Pinuccia Azzaroni Bassani, until he was able to return to Milan with his family in 1946.
Upon Gino’s return to Milan, he developed Arteluce as the premier modern lighting designer known for its creative style, careful engineering and premium quality. Throughout his successful career as the creative engine behind Arteluce, Sarfatti designed between 400 and 700 lighting pieces for a variety of settings, including well-styled homes and apartments, cruise liners, stores, and even the Teatro Regio in Turin.
In 1950, Gino Sarfatti took a long and important learning trip to the United States. During his absence, he assigned the artistic directorship of Arteluce to his friend thge architect and designer Vittoriano Viganò. During his tenure, Viganò made important design contributions to Arteluce and some of his most successful designs were for lights with large light cones and articulated arms, such as the his ceiling light Model 2062.
Aretluce consolidates its position as the premier Italian maker of lighting fixtures
Gino Sarfatti understood the prestige that the Arteluce shop in Milan provided to the brand, and, in 1953, he invited the prominent Italian designer Marco Zanuso to completely redesign the shop. The following year, in 1954, Arteluce was awarded the Grand Prix at the Triennale di Milano (Milan Triennial) for the rollout of the innovative and minimalist floor lamp (Model 1063), with a design centered around a visible fluorescent tubular bulb, which remains popular to this day.
During the later part of the 1950s and until 1973, Arteluce collaborated with the most important Italian designers of the time such as Franco Albini, Franca Helg, Ico Parisi, Vittoriano Viganò, Massimo Vignelli, and Carlo Mollino–for whom Sarfatti designed for the Teatro Regio in Turin the “cloudlike” Nuvola installation within the concert hall.
Gino Sarfatti sells Arteluce to FLOS
By the late 1960s, the complexity of Arteluce’s business had grown considerably and required a much larger managerial workforce. At this time, Gino Sarfatti’s sons and other family members joined the company, but Gino Sarfatti decided to sell Arteluce to Flos in 1973 at the peak of its sales and profits.
Since its sale to Flos, the Arteluce brand has not been promoted, and the Arteluce designs in Flos’ portfolio are now sold under the Flos brand worldwide.
- Marco Romanelli, Sandra Severi. Gino Sarfatti: Selected Works 1938 – 1973. Silvana. Milan, Italy (2018)
- Giuliana Graninga, Repertorio del Design Italiano 1950-2000 per l’Arrendamiento Domestico. Umberto Allemandi. Turin, Italy (2011)
- Piero Castiglioni, Chiara Baldaci, Giuseppe Biondo. Lux: Italia 1930-1973. Bernice. Milan, Italy (1991)
- La Maison Française Magazine. Arteluce, Gino Sarfatti, Triennale Milan. Number 12 (1951)
Last updated: July 15, 2020
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