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Designer Of The Month : Richard Sapper

2015 ended with the passing of the iconic, award-winning designer Richard Sapper, who died on the 31st December at the age of 83.

Born in 1932 in Munich, his design career began in the styling department of Daimler Benz in Stuttgart, before he moved to Milan to work firstly for the architect Gio Ponti, and then in the design division of “La Rinascente”, a department store known at the time for being creatively avant-garde.

Thus began his burgeoning 60-year long career, designing products ranging from cars and ships to computers, electronics, furniture and kitchen appliances. Over that time, his globally established clients included Alessi, Artemide, Kartell, Knoll, Mercedes, Brionvega, Pirelli, IBM, Fiat and many more.


His main interest in his design work centred on technically complex problems; both his peers and critics alike described his work as ‘forward-thinking’ and ‘ground-breaking’ because he characteristically incorporated new techniques and materials into his work.

Alberto Alessi, who worked closely with Sapper for over 40 years and praised his contribution to building the Alessi Identity as an Italian design factory, recalled his capability to infuse character into everyday merchandise, saying “He was unequalled for his surgical precision in translating the presence of his imagination into real industrial products close to perfection”.

Dezeen.com The Zoombike 2000 was the culmination of Richard's research into new Urban Transportation


The 9090 Alessi Espresso Maker, the Alessi Sapper Kettle, the Tizio Table Desk Lamp for Artemide and the Thinkpad laptop that Sapper designed for IBM in 1992 are just some of his most iconic and timeless products. Others include the stackable K1340 Chair for Kartell, the Genia Modular sheet metal bookshelf for B&B Italia, and a series of radios and televisions for Italian electronics company Brionvega. What stood out about all of his work was his ability to transform an everyday household item or electronic into pieces of sculpture.

Sapper-radio Sapper designed the TS 502 radio for Brionvega, where he worked as a consultant with long-time collaborator Marco Zanuso.

That many of his products form the permanent collections of the world’s most prestigious design museums, including the museum of Modern Art in New York and the V&A in London, is testimony to his extraordinary talent and impact on the world of design.

Academia Deyan Sudjic, director of London's Design Museum, said of Sapper “he was a gifted designer whose work could be seen as both rational, and emotional, reflecting the Germany of his birth, and the Italy that he moved to at the height of its miraculous post-war rebirth as a global centre for design”.

Richard Sapper's Tizio Table Lamp is on display at the MoMA, New York.


Throughout his career, Sapper also remained keenly involved in academia, teaching at Yale University, the Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna, the Kunstakademie in Stuttgart, the Domus Academy in Milan, the Central Academy for Art and Design in Beijing, the University of Buenos Aires, and the Royal College of Art in London, on top of lecturing at universities all over the world.

Following his death, designers all over the world have taken to Instagram and other social media outlets to pay tribute to his extraordinary talent.


Homage to Richard Sapper - TV Algol 11 first edition for #BRIONVEGA - 1964 R.I.P. Richard Sapper. Dreamer and designer of some of the most iconic pieces of the modern history of industrial design..... "German industrial designer Richard Sapper, who created iconic products for brands including Alessi, Knoll and IBM, has died aged 83. Sapper designed products including the Tizio desk lamp for Artemide, the ThinkPad range of laptops for computer company IBM and the 9091 whistling kettle for Alessi. Other clients included Kartell, Knoll, Lenovo and Magis. Many of Sapper's products are part of the permanent collections of the world's most prominent design museums, including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and the V&A museum in London." #design #innovation #richardsapper http://www.dezeen.com/2016/01/04/richard-sapper-industrial-designer-dies-aged-83-obituary/

A photo posted by Mauro Porcini (@mauroporcini) on

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