Cobra Lamp in white by Elio Martinelli for Martinelli Luce (1968)
Cobra Lamp in black by Elio Martinelli for Martinelli Luce (1968) All images courtesy of Martinelli Luce
Elmetto Lamp by Elio Martinelli for Martinelli Luce (1976)
Serpente Lamp by Elio Martinelli for Martinelli Luce (1965)
Serpente Lamp by Elio Martinelli for Martinelli Luce (1965), gold edition
Martinelli Luce has contributed significantly to Italian design, and was a hugely prominent lighting producer in the second half of the 20th century; creating innovative and award-winning lighting throughout its colorful history, collaborating with some of the biggest names in Italian design. Founded in 1950 by designer Elio Martinelli (1921-2004) in Lucca, the company has since gone on to produce numerous lighting designs for domestic and commercial use.
Exposed to the lighting industry from an early age, Martinelli joined his family's business which was originally established sometime in the 1930s. In 1950, wishing to develop and produce his own lighting fixtures, Martinelli established Martinelli Luce and focused on interior design and lights for shops, restaurants, hotels, and the like. His business grew quickly, eventually becoming a household name and reference point Italian lighting design. In 1966, Martinelli Luce was invited by designer Gio Ponti to participate in the first edition of the international design exhibition, Eurodomus, held in Turin. Martinelli Luce exhibited again in 1968, 1970, and 1972; as well as at the 14th and 15th Milan Triennial in 1968 and 1973.
Throughout his career, Martinelli embraced new materials (such as methacrylate plastic), which he used to create functional, yet highly innovative lighting fixtures. Martinelli’s work was representative of the midcentury modernist Italian aesthetic, characterized by an organic geometry that was both rationalist and expressive. Standout pieces include, among others, the space-age table lamps Bolla (1960), Globo (1962), Serpente (1965), Stivale (1967), Cobra (1968), and Foglia (1969), Millepiedi (1972), Elmetto (1976), Dobermann (1980), and the Nuvole Vagabonde (1992-9).
Since its inception, Martinelli Luce has collaborated with many talented and renowned designers including Gae Aulenti, , Michel Bouquillon, Marco De Santi – Studio Natural, Angelo Micheli, Luc Ramael, Karim Rashid, Marc Sadler, Brian Sironi, Studio 4P1B, Studio Lucchi & Biserni, Studio Orlandini, Massimo and Lella Vignelli, and many others. Notable designs include Aulenti ‘s Pipistrello (1965), Ruspa (1968) table lamps; and Sergio Asti’s Profiterolle (1968) and Scafandro (1972) table lamps.
Over the years Martinelli Luce has received several awards, including multiple iF Product Design awards, Compasso D’oro in 2011, and the ADI Design Index Award in 2011 and 2015. Exemplary designs from Martinelli Luce can be found in permanent collections of major museums include the Montreal Decorative Arts Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Museum of Art in Philadelphia.
Martinelli passed away in 2004, but the company continues to operate today under the guidance of Martinelli’s daughter, art director and designer Emiliana. The company offers a wide range of energy efficient lighting systems designed for offices, shops, cinemas, hotels, museums, and commercial, and outdoor areas.