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ITALIAN LIGHT EXHIBITION * ENGLISH TEXT

ITALIAN LIGHT EXHIBITION
The Italian Light, an exhibition in three parts covers the period from the onset of the fifties till late nineties of the twentieth century. It is set to explore the main characteristics of Italian lighting design throughout the given period.
In particular, exhibition represents designers of some of the most vanguard luminaries of the period because their products display the most significant and the most striking features of Italian lighting design, that is, its highly theoretical and speculative dimension.
Italian design, in its entirety, has, in fact, never been completely function-oriented, let alone ruled by the laws of production. Hence, the design projects have was always had a more profound meaning to them, transforming the designed object into a part of wider speculative dimension of thought. Social changes, interdisciplinary influences and stimuli from other fields of art (mostly architecture and Pure Art) have exerted a significant influence on Italian designers and their artistic production that brimmed with symbolism so as to overcome their purely functional aspect.
The theoretical approach is highly evident in the technical lighting design.
From the post-war period to present day, architects and designers have broadmindedly pushed the limits of artistic expression. Designing a luminary, an object which regulates an intangible phenomenon such as light, has made it possible for this branch of design to study and play not only with functionality, but to explore the depths of human nature and the complex man-nature relationship.
In this respect, the exhibition showcasing such object offers a privileged perspective on Italian design and its theoretical background. Italian Light presents an overview of the development of this particular branch revealing prominent theoretical concepts that have shaped it.
1) 1950-1965
1950-1965 are the formative years in the lighting design industry, even from a productive point of view. We witness, in fact, the transition from craftsmanship of a very few pioneering companies engaged in production that moved away from the historical tradition, to a wider panorama of small and medium-sized companies dominating the market of modern standard furniture.
Scandinavian functionalism represents the starting point and offers a cultural background that is to oppose the historical tradition and styles still very popular in the post-war Italian culture.
However, its interpretations take on far more complex and articulated forms.
The principle of functionality that is, on one hand, being used to break away from the historical forms, is, on the other hand, being confronted with the fine training of Italian post-war designers, all of it taking place in Milan, a city teeming with new ideas, artist, architects, writers, poets and their complex interpersonal relationships.
In the early sixties, the ‘spatialism’ of certain luminaries of the early fifties, the experimental usage of new light sources represented by Gino Sarfatti, Achille brothers and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, the ‘Lombard Classicism’ voiced by Sergio Mazza, BBPR group or by Vico Magistretti's and Marco Zanuso's design, as well as the neoliberty style represented by Sergio Asti and the sibilings Anna, Piero and Gian Emilio Monti and Giotto Stopino, have reinforced the strictly functional dimension in production, so as to point out the complex and profound cultural value of the object.
2) 1965-1980
The theoretical matrix was given more thought during the sixties and the seventies establishing itself, in some cases, as proper design mode.
That said, the design of an object is not only set to provide a solution to a technical problem of achieving the right level of lighting, but to offer a new outlook on life, society and the fate of design itself.
The shape of the luminary and the luminous effect it produces, therefore, take on a strong symbolic function, holding a meaning far more profound than its simple function.
The light assumes a new value, besides that of merely making it possible for us to see the objects, it actually overcomes the darkness, unveiling and offering a glimpse of a more intricate, intangible reality.
A change of that kind in the field of design was brought about by different theoretical approaches, whereas, its roots can be traced back to conceptual and critical branch of radical design (E.Sottsass Jr., Archizoom and Superstudio), to the pop matrix revisited in Mediterranean cultural context (‘Chiara’ lamp by Mario Bellini or the ‘Profiterole’ by Sergio Asti) and, finally, to scientific and experimental culture closely connected to kinetic art movements (groups Dam and ARDITI as well as those bound to New Lamp project ideated by Mario Vento).
Traits of the new cultural climate are observable even in the works of designers reliant on the principles of functionalism and market demands, such as Franco Albini and Franca Helg, Afra and Tobia Scarpa, Mario Bellini, Gae Aulenti, Vico Magistretti.
3) 1980-2000
Research conducted by some of the forerunners of the Radical Design, namely Ettore Sottsass Jr. in the mid seventies has reached its peak by the end of the decade with Alchimia and later on with the Memphis group in the early eighties.
Chromatic clashes and discordances, rough textures of plastic surfaces, formal imbalance and hybrid combinations of materials, a style impossible to imitate all came as a result of the newly discovered freedom. The aim was not simply to establish a language made of decorative and playful signs in formal juxtaposition with the function of the object, but rather to operate a shift in methodological approach to the project itself, to make it capable of interpreting a society that is no longer homogeneous, static and undimensional, but rather discontinuous, tribal and in constant transformation.
Rupture with the rational and functional approach and the affirmation of the necessity of the basic research free of the market and product laws was a clear sign of openness to a change in younger generations on a global level. It laid the foundations of a new, contemporary global design rich in intercultural exchanges and the complex multiplicity of choices.
The exhibiton showcases works by Alchimia and the Memphis group, along with the subsequent design projects carried out by designers such as Alessandro Mendini (‘Milo’ lamp), Matteo Thun (‘Topolino’ lamp) and Michele de Lucchi (‘Tre Fili’ lamp).
It also features other projects, such as the postmodern designs of Aldo Rossi, Kazuiki Takahama, material ecclecticism of Toni Cordero and the dramatic symbolism of Gaetano Pesce.
ITALIAN LIGHT EXHIBITION * ENGLISH TEXT
Published:

ITALIAN LIGHT EXHIBITION * ENGLISH TEXT

Published: