- Michele De Lucchi
Michele De Lucchi
BiographyA designer, architect and writer, Michele De Lucchi (born in 1951) is one of the greatest representatives of Italian design of the last few decades. He is famous for having designed many important products, including the Tolomeo lamp, the world’s best-selling lamp, produced by the company Artemide in 1987, for which he won the Compasso d’Oro two years later.
Born in Ferrara, he graduated in architecture in Florence and then became an assistant to the Design course held by Adolfo Natalini, one of the leading exponents of radical architecture.
His affinity with the ideas and experimentations of this influential avantgarde movement inspired him to found the Cavart group, which staged performances somewhere between art and architecture in the stone quarries of Veneto.
Between 1976 and 1977, he taught industrial design at the Florence University of the Arts.
In 1979, in Milan, he met Ettore Sottsass and the Memphis group, while the following year he set up his own business. In those years, he also had important experiences with Centrokappa and Alchimia.
In a short time, De Lucchi joined some of the largest Italian industrial groups at the time, in particular Olivetti, where he gained extensive experience in the office world, creating a wide range of furniture, computers and furnishings.
From 1979 onwards, he worked at Olivetti as a design consultant for the design of Synthesis in Massa, and in 1984 he joined Olivetti in Ivrea, where he was finally appointed head of the design office from 1988 to 2002.
Throughout his long career, De Lucchi has designed objects and furniture for the most well-known Italian and European companies, such as Artemide, Alias, Unifor, Hermès, Vitra, Poltrona Frau and Alessi. In the field of information technology, in addition to Olivetti, he has developed experimental projects for Compaq Computers, Philips, Siemens and Vitra, “developing various personal theories on the evolution of the office”.
In his professional work, he has always engaged in constant personal research linked “to the themes of design, technology and craftsmanship”, to the point of creating the experimental laboratory Produzione Privata in 1990. It is a specific brand under which the designer deals with products that are made using artisanal techniques and crafts.
As to this business, which is still active today, he said: “I brought it to life because I have always felt too detached from my projects: there is often too much distance between the intimate world of design and the disenchanted consumerist world of production, use and destruction. I would like to give products a richer meaning in terms of feelings and humanity, eliminating the indifference of standardized mass-produced products (...) I have always been ideally suited to “creating” and “producing” at the same time and this is what I do today, working with skilled Italian craftsmen, turning my studio into a kind of Renaissance artist’s workshop”.
Some of the objects he designed, in addition to the above-mentioned Tolomeo lamp (1987), include the highly modular Icarus Series furniture for Olivetti Synthesis (1982, with Ettore Sottsass); the First chair for Memphis (1983) “in which the geometric matrix of the circle becomes a generating and unifying element of the typological components (backrest, seat, armrests)” (Treccani), the desk accessories for Kartell (1988), the Materic kitchen (Dada, 1999), the Milestone and Palme street lamps (2000) and the Castore (2003) and Noto (2008) lamps for Artemide, and the Corten Existence steel bookcase for De Castelli (2010).
Many of his works are exhibited in some of the most important design museums in Europe, the USA and Japan, including the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, which bought a large number of them in 2003.
De Lucchi also designed and renovated numerous buildings “in Japan for NTT, in Germany for Deutsche Bank, in Switzerland for Novartis and in Italy for Enel, Olivetti, Piaggio, Poste Italiane and Telecom Italia. Since 1999, he has been in charge of the upgrading of some of Enel’s power plants”.
He won the competitions for the redevelopment of the German railway stations and the renovation of the Deutsche Bank offices, where he put the experience gained in Olivetti to good use.
He also worked on developing the corporate image for companies such as Poste Italiane, Telecom Italia, Hera, Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit.
He has made significant contributions to international installations, art exhibitions and museums such as the Triennale di Milano, Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, the Neues Museum in Berlin, the Cini Foundation in Venice, and the Gallerie d’Italia - Piazza Scala, the Museo della Pietà Rondanini and Casa Manzoni in Milan.
In addition to these projects, he has also worked for private and public clients, as in the case of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia and the Bridge of Peace in Tbilisi.
In Milan, he developed the projects for the Expo 2015 pavilions (Pavilion Zero, Expo Center and the Intesa Sanpaolo Pavilion) and the Unicredit Pavilion in Piazza Gae Aulenti.
In 2018, he was editor-in-chief of the historic magazine Domus for 10 issues, leaving the management to Winy Maas of MVRDV the following year, in line with the recent editorial initiative which, for a decade, will see a world-famous architect take over as editor-in-chief of the magazine.
He has received numerous awards, including the Compasso d’Oro in 1989, 1991 and 1994. In 2000, he was awarded the title of Officer of the Italian Republic; in 2001, he was appointed Full Professor at the Faculty of Design and Arts of the IUAV (University Institute of Architecture) of Venice and, in 2006, he received an honorary degree from Kingston University.
Michele De Lucchi selected works, products and installations
- Nuova sede per FederlegnoArredo e albergo (progetto), Milano (Italia), 2019
- Progetto di ricerca Earth Stations, 2018
- Interni di IdeaLab, sede AIdAF, Milano (Italia), 2018
- Ristrutturazione ex stazione Eni di Piazzale Accursio, oggi sede Garage Italia, Milano (Italia), 2017
- Centro commerciale “Il Centro”, Arese (Italia), 2016
- Negozio della Bottega Ghianda, Milano (Italia), 2016
- Stanza "Civiltà" per la Casa DO UT DO di A. Mendini, 2016
- Restauro Casa Manzoni con percorso museale, Milano (Italia), 2015
- Unicredit Pavilion, Milano (Italia), 2015
- Padiglione Zero (progetto) - EXPO 2015, Milano (Italia), 2015
- Tavolo Desco - Riva 1920, 2014
- Ampliamento dell’Health and Quality Factory e nuovo Z Building Zambon, Vicenza (Italia), 2013
- Gallerie d’Italia Piazza Scala, Milano (Italia), 2012
- Uffici Il Tronco, Pforzheim (Germania), 2012
- Negozio Moschino, Milano (Italia), 2012
- Cappella di San Giacomo, Fischbachau (Germania), 2012
- Palazzo di Giustizia, Batumi (Georgia), 2011
- Briccolone - Riva 1920, 2011
- Ponte della pace, Tbilisi (Georgia), 2010
- Libreria in Acciaio Corten Existence - De Castelli, 2010
- Biblioteca di Storia dell’Arte e restauro della Manica Lunga, Venezia (Italia), 2009
- Tavolo Vegan - Riva 1920 (con la collaborazione di D. Angeli), 2009
- Ministero degli Affari Interni e quartier generale Patrol Police, Tbilisi (Georgia), 2009
- Lampada fluorescente Noto - Artemide, 2008
- Chesa Ritscha, Zuoz (Svizzera), 2008
- Triennale Design Museum e ponte di accesso, Milano (Italia), 2007
- Sportello Clienti Hera, Bologna (Italia), 2007
- Ristrutturazione della Centrale Enel Teodora, Porto Corsini (Italia), 2005
- Lampada al LED Castore - Artemide, 2003
- Agenzia bancaria Banca Intesa, Milano (Italia), 2003
- Ufficio postale centrale Milano Cordusio, Milano (Italia), 2002
- Ristrutturazione degli uffici direzionali Telecom, Milano (Italia), 2002
- Artjet 10, Olivetti (Italia), 1998
- Acquatinta, Produzione Privata (Italia), 1996
- Agenzie bancarie Deutsche Bank, Hannover (Germania), 1995
- Lampada Tolomeo - Artemide (Italia), 1987
- Sedia First Chair - Memphis (Italia), 1983
- Serie Icarus - Olivetti Synthesis (con E. Sottsass), 1982
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