The ICON | Tizio Table Lamp

  • HERO IMAGE Courtesy of Artemide
  • WORDS Stephen Crafti

    Richard Sapper’s Tizio table lamp, designed in 1972, is considered one of his most recognisable designs, winning the prestigious Composso d’Oro prize in 1979.

    The illustrious Richard Sapper is the name behind numerous iconic designs, many of which were produced with Marco Zanuso for almost 20 years – ranging from radios, television sets, chairs and even kettles. When other designers were experimenting with plastics, creating wild fantasy lights often in the form of mushrooms, Richard Sapper’s Tizio table lamp was already ‘speaking’ to the following decade, the 1980s, with his lamp’s crisp, minimal outlines. And rather than opting for plastic, it was conceived in black aluminium.

    As mentioned by Richard shortly after the lamp, produced by Artemide, was released, “I wanted a small head and long arms; I didn’t want to have to clamp the lamp to the desk because it’s awkward and I wanted to be able to move it easily”. Fully adjustable with just a touch on either of the two arms (using a system of counterweights), the Tizio comes with a halogen lamp, something Richard would have handled in his earlier career working as a designer/stylist for Mercedes Benz in Germany before establishing his own practice in Milan in 1958.

    Milan was the perfect place to be in the post-war period, with Italians showing what the future would look like through their design talents – from the Vespa to the designer toaster and, of course in Richard’s case, the many iconic household appliances he can be credited with. As the saying goes, ‘the devil is in the detail’, and Richard is known for including small but memorable details in his designs. In the case of the Tizio table lamp, it’s the little bright red joints strategically placed in the arms.

    The Artimede Tizio table lamp | Imagery courtesy of Artimede

    Given its colour and form, essentially black with a touch of red, it’s not surprising that this design didn’t really take off until the early 1980s when a starker and more monochromatic palette prevailed in household objects, furniture and fashion. The 1980s also aligned with Richard’s design philosophy that the technological function of a product should determine its appearance.

    Stylecraft is the only authorised supplier of the Tizio table lamp in Australia. “It’s such a timeless design, beautiful to look at as much as to touch,” Stylecraft’s Melbourne showroom coordinator Trinity Zender says. “Older clients are quite familiar with the lamp. Others, such as younger designers, are instantly attracted to it, after seeing it displayed in our window. They see it and immediately want to take it home,” Trinity says.

    One designer who has a Tizio table lamp in his home is Filip Bjazevic, a graphic designer and a director of Latitude Design Group. Purchased in 2003, Filip initially came across this lamp in the showroom of Bill Luke – known for popularising many postwar designs from the early 1990s, well before they became more mainstream. “As soon as my finger touched one of the arms, I was sold. It just has a different feel to many of the other lights, gliding so effortlessly into a different position,” Filip says, who has the Tizio on his PK50 table, by Paul Kjaerholm, in his home office. As with this lamp, the table is reduced to its skeletal steel frame making these two designs ‘speak to each other’. And of course, being a graphic designer, Filip appreciates designs that are strong, simple and do what they are supposed to do!

    The Artimede Tizio table lamp | Imagery courtesy of Artimede

    The Artimede Tizio table lamp | Imagery courtesy of Artimede

    The Artimede Tizio table lamp | Imagery courtesy of Artimede


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