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Italian lighting company Foscarini celebrates 40 years of design brilliance
Caboche by Patricia Urquiola and Eliana Gerotto for Foscarini
Image: Courtesy of Foscarini Lighting Collections

Italian lighting company Foscarini celebrates 40 years of design brilliance

The Italian design company reflects on 4 decades of global influence in lighting design.

by Pooja Suresh Hollannavar
Published on : Dec 11, 2023

Good or bad lighting design can truly transform a space. It shapes ambience, affects functionality, and influences mood. Thoughtful lighting can transform spaces, highlighting architectural features and creating visual interest, and affect human well-being, productivity, and perception of surroundings.

In this niche yet universally acknowledged territory of lighting design, few names resonate with as much significance and innovation as the Italian brand Foscarini. As the company celebrates its 40th anniversary, it is a milestone but also a testament to a journey marked by imaginative designs, material innovation, and a commitment to cultural stewardship. Founded in 1981 on the island of Murano, Venice, Foscarini has grown from its roots in Murano glass to become a global powerhouse in lighting design, all the while maintaining its unique position as one of the few international lighting design houses with independent ownership.

Founded by Carlo Urbinati in 1981 Foscarini set itself apart by adopting a distinctive approach from the get-go. Unlike other Murano companies, it does not produce its objects in-house. Instead, Foscarini collaborates with a network of highly skilled workshops in Italy, creating a flexible and innovative production model. This approach has been instrumental in the brand's ability to develop novel ideas and push the boundaries of design. Foscarini's recipe is simple yet effective: choose a design with a strong emotional impact, develop the best technical and productive solutions, and transform the original idea into a concrete reality.

In 1983, Foscarini released its first catalogue collection of designer lamps. The company's commitment to craftsmanship and industry, coupled with a keen sense of design has only grown since then. Fast forward to 2023, and the Foscarini collection boasts an impressive array of 227 different models, 63 families of lamps, 44 colours, 56 finishes, 24 technologies, 26 materials, and collaborations with over 33 designers.

Foscarini's evolution is a tale of material exploration and design ingenuity. The departure from Murano glass in 1992, as exemplified by Ferruccio Laviani's Orbital lamp using industrial glass, signalled a shift toward fully expressing the spirit of Italian design. This marked a turning point, with subsequent designs like Jozeph Forakis's Havana lamp in 1993 introducing polyethene as a material, reflecting a need for light and mobile bodies.

One pivotal moment in the year 2000 brought the Mite lamp into existence. A collaboration with Marc Sadler, this lamp introduced a new material—fibreglass and carbon or Kevlar thread—resulting in a product that earned Foscarini and Sadler the prestigious Compasso d'Oro ADI award. The company's commitment to innovation continued, with iconic designs like Lumiere, Twiggy, Caboche, Aplomb, and more, earning Foscarini a prominent place in design history.

Foscarini's impact goes beyond the creation of lighting fixtures. In 2010, the company embraced a new challenge by initiating the editorial project "INVENTARIO," a book zine that provides a free and enlightened perspective on design, music, entertainment scenes, architecture, and art. Directed by Beppe Finessi, INVENTARIO became a spokesperson for Foscarini's values of research, innovation, creativity, and project culture. Notably, it received the Compasso d'Oro ADI award for its contribution to the design world.

In 2020, Foscarini embarked on the VITE project, a captivating journey into real homes across Copenhagen, New York, Naples, Shanghai, and Venice. Captured by artist Gianluca Vassallo and writer Flavio Soriga, VITE offers an intimate look at people and their stories, breaking away from controlled photographic sets to reveal the imperfections and authenticity of everyday living spaces.

The year 2022 brought a strategic move as Foscarini acquired 90% of the shares of Ingo Maurer GmbH, further solidifying its distinctive role in the global decorative lighting design sector. Known for its pieces that blend the ordinary with the extraordinary, Ingo Maurer GmbH will maintain its historic identity and independent development with Foscarini's support.

As Foscarini celebrates four decades of creativity, research, innovation, and collaboration, the company continues to make people feel at home in their spaces. With a collection distributed in over 88 countries and two flagship stores in Milan and New York, Foscarini's impact on the world of design is undeniable.

Foscarini's 40th anniversary reflects on its past but also illuminates the path forward as the company's fusion of tradition and innovation, commitment to material exploration, and cultural vocation continue to shape its identity. In the words of Carlo Urbinati, "The journey continues, and the best is yet to come."

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