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Honoring the Life and Legacy of Richard Sapper

Richard Sapper passed away last year on December 31st, 2015. He was 83 years old and left behind him a legacy of industrial design. In remembrance of Sapper and the mark he left on the world of design, we’re taking a look at some of his most prominent designs. Join us as we honor the life and legacy of Richard Sapper.

Richard Sapper | YLiving
Richard Sapper

Born in Munich in 1932, Sapper studied philosophy, anatomy, graphics, engineering as well as economics. His career began working at Mercedes-Benz in the design department and shortly there after he joined Gio Ponti’s architectural firm in Milan. In 1959, he began collaborating with Marco Zanuso. Together, they birthed the “techno-functionalism” movement while working for the Italian electronics company Brionvega. In 1959, he began collaborating with Marco Zanuso. Together, they birthed the “techno-functionalism” movement while working for the Italian electronics company Brionvega. The aesthetic of the movement highlighted approach over style, which was exempliefied in two of their designs for the company: the TS502 radio and Doney 14 transistor television set. After the great success of those two products, Sapper went on to collaborate with a number of notable companies, including Siemens, Kartell, Knoll, Alessi, Artemide, Tag Heuer as well as IBM.

His Legacy

Richard Sapper |YLiving
Tizio 35 Table Lamp By Richard Sapper, from Artemide Lighting

In 1972, Sapper designed the Tizio lamp for Artemide. It was one of the first desk lamps to use halogen bulbs with low-voltage current conducting arms, eliminating the need for wire. Today, the Tizio lamp remains as one of the best-selling lamps ever produced. One of Richard Sapper’s crowning achievements was his 1979 Executive Chair for Knoll. Sapper’s groundbreaking design created a chair that was “[more] generously proportioned with wide, flat seating and supporting surfaces than molded or rigid contours.”

Richard Sapper |YLiving
Sapper XYZ Monitor Arm By Richard Sapper, from Knoll

In 2007, Richard Sapper returned to Knoll to design a flexible monitor arm system. Creating an equally efficient and adaptable kinetic arm, he produced a system that responds to the user’s configuration needs, with little effort. His commitment for design education remained steadfast until his death in 2015. Holding posts at Yale University in New Haven, the Royal College of Art in London, the Central Academy for Art and Design in Beijing and Domus Academie in Milan, he was very active in design education.

Todo Cheese Grater By Richard Sapper, from Alessi | YLiving
Todo Cheese Grater By Richard Sapper, from Alessi
Tosca Chair, Set of 4 By Richard Sapper, from Magis | YLiving
Tosca Chair, Set of 4 By Richard Sapper, from Magis

Over the course of his career he was winner of the Compassi d’Oro not once, not twice, not even five times, but ten. Designing everything from ships to television sets, tea kettles to cheese graters, watches to computers, his design interests were for the technically complex. He was also the recipient of The Lucky Strike Award from The Raymond Loewry Foundation and the Lifetime Achievement Award from The German Design Council. Over a dozen of his designs are a part of the MoMA permanent collection, while others are still represented in international museums such as London’s Victoria and Albert Design Museum.

For More Inspiration:

Rachel Kemp

Rachel Kemp

Rachel is one of the Merchandise Managers for YLiving with a long career in merchandising and is thrilled to finally be working through a channel that supports her passion for modern design. As a mother of two toddlers, she is practical, design driven in her decisions with furnishing her home and tempted daily with the endless options of home upgrades.

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