Italian designer Davide Groppi creates lamps that are evocative – of history, art, literature – and often minimal, but never minimalist. Darkness, for Groppi, is as important as light, but so is beauty. Working in Piacenza, just southeast of Milan, Groppi has won the Elle Deco International Design Award (Edida), the Design Plus Award, and the ADI Compasso d’Oro.
LF: How did you get started?
DG: I was lucky, because my father taught me to build things, including lamps. The first lamp I assembled with my father, when I was 8 or 9, was a table lamp with a simple base, stem, and shade. My father, who worked for Enel, the Italian national electronic company, was very good in teaching me how to build things from nothing, and I found the light we made produced emotion in a way that the telegraph machine, and toys (like a pinball machine we made) did not.
The Simbiosi Suspension appears weightless and almost inconceivable. The very thin red wire that connects the light sources and brings them alive, one in relation to the other, is the principle component of this project.
LF: Have any of your designs drawn their inspiration from an off-the-shelf part you’ve found?
DG: I love ready-mades. My spiritual master is Achille Castiglione. I really love the surrealist approach of using something that already exists and putting it to a different purpose. Sampei, for example, is named for a Japanese cartoon character, a fisherman. I used a fishing rod as inspiration, and the lamp is meant to remind you of a boy fishing on a typical Japanese river.
Sampei Indoor Floor, inspired by a Japanese cartoon character.
LF: How has LED technology influenced the way you design?
DG: It lets me be more romantic. Like with Nulla: It’s a tiny dot. It’s very technological, but it results in a very romantic way of lighting. It is surprising lighting, you don’t understand where it is coming from, like a light with no source. I find new technology is going in a more humanistic direction, not only for higher performance. I am going further in this direction, light with no source, magic light.
It looks like a little black circle, as if it had been drawn. For those who are not familiar with Nulla, it might not even appear to be a lamp.
LF: The new Calvino both illuminates and reflects its environment. Is this a concept that resonates in your design philosophy?
DG: For the design of Calvino, my inspiration was the painter Michelangelo Pistoletto, who is known for incorporating mirrors and reflections into his work. It is taking the environment around and bringing it into the art piece through mirrors. The name comes from Italo Calvino’s novel, The Invisible Cities, in which there’s a story about a city and a lake that reflects its shape on the lake water, an invisible city. Art is always an inspiration for my designs.
Calvino Light has a circular mirror can be orientated according to what pleases the eye. This enables the illumination around it and at the same time, take in the space around it.
LF: Where do you go from here?
DG: What I have in mind for the future is a concept of light which is always more rare: the opposite of concentrated. The lamp for me something that is useful less to see than to feel.
Davide Groppi’s lighting collections are now on display in our Toronto lighting showroom.