The Tizio lamp (1972) has probably made an appearance on the desks of more architects and designers than any other object since the lead pencil. Richard Sapper, its designer, has provided a model for product design that combines the rational approach and technical sophistication of his German homeland with Italian flair and originality. After receiving an engineering degree from the University of Munich, Sapper began work for Mercedes Benz and then moved to Italy to work in the design studio of Alberto Roselli and Gio Ponti.
In 1959, he received a Compasso d'Oro for his Static table clock, subsequently collaborated with Marco Zanuso and finally, opened his own design office in Stuttgart in 1970. He continued, however, to team up with Zanuso and together they produced a number of notable products including a plastic child's chair for Kartell which doubled as a construction toy. They also created the highly styled Doney television for Brionvega, a sewing machine for Necchi and the compact Grillo folding telephone. These products represented state of the art technology, elegantly housed and designed to convey function with a visual clarity that was eloquently modern.
The Tizio lamp was created for Artemide in 1972. Matte black and minimal in form, it had not only a new look but operated in a completely new way. It was equipped with an inner balancing mechanism that allowed users to alter its position by the lightest touch of the hand. It won the Compasso d'Oro in 1979. Since 1981, Sapper has been a design consultant for IBM, designing portable computers like the minimalist "leapfrog" computer. He has also given his high tech style post-modern inflections, creating successful designs for Alessi including the Caffettiere coffee maker and Bollitore kettle. Sapper is an impressively versatile designer who can create compelling visual images for sophisticated electronic technology, and still respond to the simpler challenge of making everyday objects like flatware or a child's chair.