ITALIAN LIGHT - Sixty designer lamps from 1950 to 1990



Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb

15 February – 18 March 2018

Museum of Arts and Crafts in cooperation with Italian Institute for Culture in Zagreb presents extraordinary examples of Italian design in area of domestic lighting from the beginning of '50s until the end of '90s of 20th century from Collection Cortopassi with exhibition Italian Light. Curatorial work of the exhibition is done by Studio Archeo900 from Ferrara.

Chosen avant-garde lamps show clearly one of the most important and most remarkable characteristics of Italian design in the area of domestic lighting – it has never been purely functional, even less conditioned with the laws of production.

Designer projects were always intertwined with deeper questioning which has resulted with a final product which had a mental dimension.

All the architects and designers which were active in period from the end of WWII until today worked absolutely free and uninhibited. The design of a lamp, an object that regulates an immaterial phenomenon – light, allowed this branch of design to explore and express not only funcionality, but also deep aspects of human nature and connectivity of a person with a world.

In that sense, exhibition of lamps presents a privileged view on Italian design and its theoretical settings through three key periods.

In period from 1950 – 1965, domain of lighting technology and its production developes. This is a period of transition from few artisanal companies which are engaged in production of lamps outside the framework of historical tradition according to market division of modern serial furniture between small and medium companies.

The model is functionalism which is coming from Northern Europe and which represents a new cultural background which is opposite to heritage of taditional historical styles that are very immanent in Italy after the WWII.

However, interpretation of objects and their functionality is quite elaborate and complex from the very beginning.

In one hand, the criterion of functionality is used to cut off ties with shapes inherited from the past, while in other, it is opposing the education of Italian designer which work in Milan after the WWII, in a city that is swarming with ideas and cooperations between artists, architects and writers.

In period from 1965 to 1980, designing of lighting objects has a goal not only to solve the tachnical problem of correct lighting, but also the questioning of functional customs through a fresh view on the world, society and on the fate of the design itself. The shape of the lamp and the lighting effect it provides that way assumes a symbolic function, expressing and offering one wider concept.

Light assumes a new value that way: not only it illuminates real objects, winning over darkness, but it also reveals and gets complexs immaterial realities closer.

This profound transformation in the area of design evolves that years in various theoretical directions, whose foundations can be summarised on conceptual and critical design (E. Sottsass Jr., Archizoom and Superstudio) of pop matrixes in Mediterranean cultural context (lamps „Chiara“ by Mario Bellini and „Profiterole“ by Sergio Astio), and in the end, scientific and experimental approach associated with the movements of Arte Programmata (Gruppo Dam, Group ARDITI, New Lamp by Mario Vento)

Restless and unbalanced colours, strong textures of plastic surfaces, disbalance in form and various materials that cannot be immitated present a grat freedom in the design in the period from 1980 to 2000.

Their primary goal was not to find an expression of decorative, playful symbols which would be in contrast with the object's purpose, but to give a methdological openness to the project to present a society that is not homogenous, static and onedimensional, but discontinued and constantly changing.

That break with rationalistic and functionalistic movements in design, and the affirmation of necessity of pure exploration, free from laws of the market, was a clear sign of new generations opening on a international level. Foundations were created for contemporary design which is nowdays chatacterised by global cultural exchanges and complex abundance of choices.

Exhibition will include projects as are postmodern weork by Aldo Rossi, Kaizuki Takahama, material ecclecticism of Toni Corder and dramatic symbolism of Gaetano Pesco.