In Memoriam – “My secret dream? To illuminate Mars.” Confessed once the late Ernesto Gismondi, founder and president of Italian lighting design company Artemide, one of the most famous lamp manufacturers in the world. His legacy is a forward thinking vision for industrial design: harnessing innovation to improve the wellbeing at home, in cities and at work through light.
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Born in 1931 in Sanremo, Gismondi graduated in aeronautical engineering at the Politecnico di Milano at the end of the 1950s and was also a member of the influential Memphis Group. He then founded Artemide, which in just few years became well known for the lamps it produced.
Under his helm, the company collaborated with some of the most influential Italian and international designers such as Sergio Mazza – co-founder of the company -, Vico Magistretti, Gio Ponti, Gae Aulenti, Santiago Calatrava Richard Sapper and more.“With many of them I built a strong connection and a great lifelong friendship.”
Gismondi himself used to design products – in 2018, his Discovery lamp won the Compasso D’Oro, the most important accolade for Italian design. “I am particularly proud of Aton Barra (1980) for bringing Arteminde into the world of the world of the office as well as opening new perspectives on the work environment.”
He kept more than one eye not only on the private environment but also on public and urban lighting design bringing forward international collaboration with leading international architecture studios such as David Chipperfield, Bjarke Ingels Group and Alejandr0 Aravena’s ELEMENTAL.
Innovation has always been deeply rooted in Gismondi’s values and Artemide’s DNA. Indeed, the company invests 5% of its revenue in R&D. Among his latest projects is Integralis™, a patented technology developed before the pandemic emergency that combines sanitising efficacy with luminous performance and design beauty. Thanks to selected frequencies of invisible UV light, the technology inhibits the developments and growth of bacteria, fungi and viruses.
The news was first shared by Milanese architect Stefano Boeri “Ernesto Gismondi left us, great innovator and dear friend. Ernesto illuminated the world with Artemide, was the first to use plastic to make furniture, raced with his head held high in the seas of politics and entrepreneurship […]”. Milan’s Mayor Beppe Sala said: “With the death of Ernesto Gismondi, we lose one of the protagonists of that world of design that made Milan great.”