Ingo Maurer with hist lighting design What We Do Counts - Photo by Tom Vack
Ingo Maurer with hist lighting design What We Do Counts – Photo by Tom Vack.

In Memoriam – “As a designer I have always sought emotional satisfaction, above any other factor. That is the key to my work, but I live it as an intuition rather than a duty.” Said once the late Ingo Maurer who has injected lighting design with a visionary blend of levity and irony, craftsmanship – the art of making – and technology – the art of innovating. “Light can be sensual; it can be comforting; it can even be dangerous. It goes beyond science or nature, or even art – it is as potent as life itself.”

Known as a poet of light, Maurer went beyond design cross-pollinating the discipline with art and architecture, digital innovations and artisanship. His experimental and open-minded approach is the focus of the upcoming exhibition Ingo Maurer intim. Design or what? at Die Neue Sammlung museum in Munich (November 15,2019-October 18, 2020).

Ingo Maurer + Team, Flatterby, 2016 - Photo by Ingo Maurer GmbH
Flatterby, 2016 – Photo by Ingo Maurer GmbH.

Ingo Maurer was born in 1932 on the small Reichenau island in Lake Constance between the first and second world wars. He fleed a divided country and settled in the US where he worked as a graphic designer before founding his studio back in Munich. Over the course of his career he won a slew of the industry’s highest accolades including the Compasso d’Oro and the Design Prize of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Ingo Maurer, Bulb, 1966. Design M, Munchen. Courtesy of Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum, A. Laurenzo
Bulb, 1966. Courtesy of Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum, A. Laurenzo

His first, famous design statement was Bulb, the iconic luminaire pays homage to the humble light bulb and turns it into a table lamp. Created in 1966 and now part of MoMA’s permanent collection, Bulb was imagined in a miserable pension in a rainy day in Venice and then developed in his atelier in Munich. “The base of lighting design is the lightbulb,” confessed once Ingo Maurer. An over sized prototype can be still discovered in the back-courtyard of the Pizzeria Passaparola in Kaiserstrasse 47, Munich, where the studio factory outlet was originally based.

Luzy Takes Five, 2018 - Photo by Ingo Maurer GmbH
Luzy Takes Five, 2018 – Photo by Ingo Maurer GmbH.

Maurer worked with the bulb concept on several projects. Luccellino is a winged lightbulb turned into a table lamp. The Flatterby family comes with hand-made butterflies and dragonflies. The surprising and unconventional Luzy series features blue gloves with frosted bulbs at the finger tips.

Ingo Maurer, Porca Miseria!, 1994 - Photo by Stefan Geisbauer
Porca Miseria!, 1994 – Photo by Stefan Geisbauer.

I’m an admirer of slow-motion explosions, like in the film by Antonioni called Zabriskie Point, where he blew up a castle in slow motion.” Said Ingo Maurer about his Porca Miseria chandelier which is made from an assemblage of broken porcelain and crockery. “When I first showed it in Milan, I called the lamp Zabriskie Point’ But then the first few Italians came, and—since no one had seen this ever before—said, Porca miseria! which is a kind of a cuss: ‘What bad luck!’ So I immediately changed the name to Porca Miseria.” 

Ingo Maurer, Zettel’z 5, 1997 - Photo by Ingo Maurer GmbH
Zettel’z 5, 1997 – Photo by Ingo Maurer GmbH.

Explosion is a recurring theme. The iconic Zettel’z chandelier is a spacial blast of Japanese paper sheets, some printed and some blank for the owner to scribble and write personale messages on them. Other notable designs include the Campari Light, designed in 2002 with Raffaele Celentano, featuring 10 removable Campari Soda bottles which were designed by Fortunato  Depero in the 20s.

Oop’s is a strip of paper pinned to the wall. The light source is hidden in the lower end. It combines the spontaneous expression of a ready-made with a very appealing curved shape and the pleasant light that falls through paper. YaYaHo is a low-voltage halogen system. All elements are adjustable – horizontally, and in some cases vertically, too.

Ingo Maurer + Team, YaYaHo, 1984 - Photo by Ingo Maurer GmbH
YaYaHo, 1984 – Photo by Ingo Maurer GmbH.

Along his carrier, Ingo Maurer have also been developing complex, ingenious, and elaborate lighting concepts for both private and public spaces as well as spectacular one-offs and exhibitions. At the MATSUYA GINZA gallery in Tokyo, a solo exhibition narrates his iconic ‘tech-poetics’ while his winter garden for Residenztheater in Munich is set to inagurate in 2020.

Ingo Maurer + Team, Torre Velasca Blu, 2019 - Photo by Tom Vack
Milan Design Week lighting installation ‘Torre Velasca Blu’, 2019 – Photo by Tom Vack.
"Team Silver Cloud" light installation - Photo by Simon Koy. lichtinstalation / Simon Koy
“Team Silver Cloud” light installation – Photo by Simon Koy. lichtinstalation / Simon Koy