Ingo Maurer (1932–2019): a shining inspiration
LZF is deeply saddened by the passing of Ingo Maurer, the eminent German lighting designer. He was a creative and shining inspiration for many years, a man whose playful, expressive and singular works earned him the epithet ‘poet of light’. Maurer’s accomplished lighting oeuvre straddles both art and industrial design. As well as creating eloquent and imaginative lights, he also worked on many installations, often considered ‘artistic performances’. They included: Installation for Residenztheater (Munich, 2019), the illumination of Torre Velasca (Milan, 2016), and ‘Broken Egg’ (Brazil, 2013).
Ingo Maurer was born in 1932 on Reichenau Island in Lake Constance, southern Germany. He studied typography for three years and later commercial art, moving to the US in 1960 to work as a graphic designer and art director for a small advertising agency. It was in 1966 that Maurer made his official debut in the world of lighting, when he designed ‘Bulb’. One of his most familiar—and perhaps most straightforward—designs, Bulb places a standard lightbulb within a larger glass orb, to create an eye-catching and minimal table lamp. The lamp was very much sought-after: in 1966, Maurer set up his own production facilities at Kaiserstrasse 47 in Munich, in order to produce the design.
In 1969, Bulb was included in the permanent design collection of MoMA in New York (just one of many accolades that Maurer would earn in his lifetime). By 2005, with more than one hundred lighting products and prototypes, Ingo Maurer GmbH outgrew its much loved home at Kaiserstrasse 47. A new location for production and shipping was opened on the outskirts of Munich, while Kaiserstrasse 47 was transformed into a beautifully spacious showroom.
In what was perhaps one of his last interviews (with Frame in 2018), Ingo Maurer describes himself as a ‘dreamer’ and believes that ‘a good designer needs to have a lot of passion… [enjoying] the entire process, from concept to final product.’ And even with his many years of experience, Maurer admitted to still feeling insecure when doing something new—a truly human and endearing quality. Speaking about his many lighting designs, Maurer singles out the 1989 Don Quixote lamp as being closest to his soul: ‘[the Don Quixote] combines a lot of different techniques and elements. Commercially, it hasn’t been extremely successful, but I think it’s one of the most daring lamps I’ve done. It represents my freedom.’ And for a man whose genius lay in expressing light in many forms, the wonderfully curious Don Quixote is very much the quintessence of Ingo Maurer.
Reflecting on Ingo Maurer’s passing, LZF co-founder Mariví Calvo recalls: ‘I was blissfully happy to meet Ingo Maurer in his showroom in New York during design week in 2017. I have the greatest respect for Ingo’s work as a designer and for his company. It’s very sad to know he’s not with us anymore.’
Ingo Maurer passed away in Munich on 21st October 2019. He was 87 years old.
With so many unconventional, expressive and playful designs, the following lamps represent just a few of Ingo Maurer’s standout creations.