Volume 9.

5 Iconic Lighting Designs

Italy has always been known for its rich and extensive design history, however it wasn't until after World War Two that the country began to develop a reputation as one of the world leaders in lighting design. Here, we take a look at some of the most iconic lighting designs to come out of mid-century Italy and we explore how interior designers are still using these timeless pieces in their work today.

1. Sputnik Chandeliers

This elegant space by interior designers Humbert & Poyet features a dramatic sputnik chandelier by Fedele Papagni.

The sputnik chandelier was first designed by Gino Sarfatti, a self-taught lighting designer who co-founded lighting manufacturing company Arteluca in 1939. The iconic shape of the light was inspired by the Soviet satellite of the same name, which featured four long antennae emulating from a center sphere. It was the first satellite to orbit the earth and it is believed that the Sputnik largely contributed to the push for the USA to create a rival space programme in 1958. The light became a recognizable part of the design period known as the “Atomic Age”, when concerns of nuclear war dominated the West, influencing architectural, commercial and interior design. The design remains a popular fixture today, as featured above in the chic Monaco apartment designed by Humbert & Poyet.

Sputnik Chandeliers
This Sputnik lamp was designed in the style of Stilnovo and produced in the 1950s in Italy.
A Mid-Century Sputnik chandelier, flush mount light with five brass spokes and five lights.
A vibrant multicolored and brass sputnik chandelier, from the Italian mid-century period.
An oversized Italian sputnik chandelier in typical mid-century style with 30 bulb arms and thick glass spiked mounts.
A 1950s Italian whimsical sputnik style chandelier in the style of Stilnovo, with eight arms in brass with red, yellow and green bulb holders and the centre and ceiling rose in blue.
A large contemporary sputnik chandelier in brass, with spiked centre and 24 arms, produced in mid century Style.
A 1950s Italian sputnik ceiling light painted in black enamel and exquisitely decorated in metal leaf motif connected to a brass base with classic Italian coloured lamp holders at the end of each arm.

2. Statement Floor Lighting

The dramatic New York living space of Laure Heriard Dubreuil and Aaron Young, featuring a 1950s Italian floor lamp by an unnamed designer.

One of the best known lighting designs of this period was the Model 12128 'Triennale', a three-armed floor lamp created in the late 1940s by Angelo Lelli. Lelli's design has been copied many times and typically features a slender column, pivoting arms which allow for maximum flexibility of use and enameled metal conical shades. There have been many variations on this design, however it is likely that Lelli's classic model was the starting point for most of them.

Statement Floor Lamps
A 1950s Italian three-arm painted metal lamp.
1960s Triennale Italian Floor Lamp by Stilnovo.
A tall 1950s Italian double floor lamp attributed to Stilnovo.
Tall multicoloured floor lamp made in 1950s Italy, in the style of Arredoluce.
A brass tree standing lamp with five arms and five lights by Angelo Lelli, made with a black base, Italy, c.1960s.
Italian chrome floor lamp from 1970s with three adjustable lights.

3. Glass Pendant Lights

The London home of Martina Mondadori Sartogo, designed by her and decorator Livia Rebecchini. In the dining room, a 1940s Stilnovo chandelier hangs over a '50s Italian table and chairs.

With a world famous glass industry, it comes as no surprise that Italian designers make generous use of the material in their pieces. Murano glass in particular is known for its high-quality and craftsmanship, and has been employed by numerous major design houses over the last century including Stilnovo, Vistosi and Sciolari. It was particularly popular after World War Two, when more expensive materials such as brass and copper were being rationed.

Glass Pendant Lights
Italian Mid-Century Modern Brass and Colored Glass Chandelier.
Mid-Century Murano bubble glass pendant light.
Italian Chrome and Crystal Glass Cascade Pendant, circa 1960s.
Modern chandelier manufactured in Italy during the 1950s.
Murano glass pendant lamp produced by Venini glassworks in the 1970s.
Three seguso glass orbs pendant light, by Gino Sarfatti and Archimede Seguso.

4. Brass Lights

Upper West Side apartment interior by Fawn Galli, featuring a brass pendant light.

Brass gained popularity in the mid-20th century due to its shiny, modern look which is still extremely popular in interiors today. Whilst some designers enjoyed using brass on its own, others such as Sciolari enjoyed juxtaposing it against satin finishes, including the experimental combination of brass with chrome.

Brass Lighting
A sculptural space age chandelier with clean lines in brass and nickel with clear glass disks displaying 12 lights by Gaetano Sciolari, Italy, c.1970s.
A wonderful original 1960s pendant ceiling light.
Pair of 1950s Italian sconces in brass and glass.
A small gilt brass and glass rod chandelier, by Gaetano Sciolari.
A pair of wall lights in organic form, with four lights each.
An Italian brass chandelier with 33 cut smoke glass crystal plates by Vistosi, circa 1960s.
This modernist wall light was produced in Italy in the 1950s.
A 1970s Italian brass chandelier with twelve curved arms and lights, designed by Gaetano Sciolari.

5. Cubist Lighting

The bedroom of a London townhouse by Veere Grenney, featuring a 1970s Gaetano Sciolari light fixture.

The designs of Italian lighting designer Gaetano Sciolari have recently come back into the spotlight, particularly pieces from his Cubic series, which was inspired by a range of art movements including Cubism and Deconstructivism. The designs appeared in many TV shows in the 1970s and '80s and remain highly-sought after by collectors.

Sciolari Cubic Lights
Gaetano Boulanger Sciolari ceiling lamp.
A ceiling lamp which doubles as a wall sconce.
Stunning Gaetano Boulanger Sciolari ceiling lamp with nine light points.
A vintage aluminium frame with a brass plated finish chandelier.
A large table lamp base with glass panels, and frame finished in chrome and brass, by Sciolari, Italy, c.1970s.
A large and impressive geometric chandelier in chrome, brass and lucite by Sciolari, c.1970, Italy.
A large 1970s Italian, model 131, cubic chandelier in brushed steel and chrome designed by Gaetano Sciolari.