LZF is deeply saddened by the passing of Ingo Maurer, the eminent German lighting designer. He was a creative and shining inspiration for many years, a man whose playful, expressive and singular works earned him the epithet ‘poet of light’. Maurer’s accomplished lighting oeuvre straddles both art and industrial design. As well as creating eloquent and imaginative lights, he also worked on many installations, often considered ‘artistic performances’. They included: Installation for Residenztheater (Munich, 2019), the illumination of Torre Velasca (Milan, 2016), and ‘Broken Egg’ (Brazil, 2013).

Ingo Maurer. Photo by Robert Fisher via Icon Design.

The Munich Residenztheater commissioned Ingo Maurer to create a lighting concept for its ‘Wintergarten’. The finished piece, a chandelier made from over 3,000 silver-plated leaves, was completed on 18th October 2019, just three days before his death. Photo © Ingo Maurer GmbH.

Ingo Maurer was born in 1932 on Reichenau Island in Lake Constance, southern Germany. He studied typography for three years and later commercial art, moving to the US in 1960 to work as a graphic designer and art director for a small advertising agency. It was in 1966 that Maurer made his official debut in the world of lighting, when he designed ‘Bulb’. One of his most familiar—and perhaps most straightforward—designs, Bulb places a standard lightbulb within a larger glass orb, to create an eye-catching and minimal table lamp. The lamp was very much sought-after: in 1966, Maurer set up his own production facilities at Kaiserstrasse 47 in Munich, in order to produce the design. 

Ingo Maurer’s 1966 Bulb table lamp. Photo © Ingo Maurer GmbH.

In 1969, Bulb was included in the permanent design collection of MoMA in New York (just one of many accolades that Maurer would earn in his lifetime). By 2005, with more than one hundred lighting products and prototypes, Ingo Maurer GmbH outgrew its much loved home at Kaiserstrasse 47. A new location for production and shipping was opened on the outskirts of Munich, while Kaiserstrasse 47 was transformed into a beautifully spacious showroom. 

‘Bulb in the shop window.’ A 1970s photo by Angelika von Mutius, from an Ingo Maurer GmbH catalogue. Photo © Ingo Maurer GmbH.

In what was perhaps one of his last interviews (with Frame in 2018), Ingo Maurer describes himself as a ‘dreamer’ and believes that ‘a good designer needs to have a lot of passion… [enjoying] the entire process, from concept to final product.’ And even with his many years of experience, Maurer admitted to still feeling insecure when doing something new—a truly human and endearing quality. Speaking about his many lighting designs, Maurer singles out the 1989 Don Quixote lamp as being closest to his soul: ‘[the Don Quixote] combines a lot of different techniques and elements. Commercially, it hasn’t been extremely successful, but I think it’s one of the most daring lamps I’ve done. It represents my freedom.’ And for a man whose genius lay in expressing light in many forms, the wonderfully curious Don Quixote is very much the quintessence of Ingo Maurer.

The 1989 Don Quixote table lamp. Made using steel, aluminium and flexible plastic, it bends, twists, turns and swivels. Photo © Ingo Maurer GmbH.

Reflecting on Ingo Maurer’s passing, LZF co-founder Mariví Calvo recalls: ‘I was blissfully happy to meet Ingo Maurer in his showroom in New York during design week in 2017. I have the greatest respect for Ingo’s work as a designer and for his company. It’s very sad to know he’s not with us anymore.’

LZF co-founder Mariví Calvo with Ingo Maurer at his showroom in New York in 2017.

Ingo Maurer passed away in Munich on 21st October 2019. He was 87 years old.

With so many unconventional, expressive and playful designs, the following lamps represent just a few of Ingo Maurer’s standout creations. 

Originally designed in 1982 as a wedding present for some friends (and inspired by a plastic stork from Woolworths), Bibibibi was very well received and is part of Ingo Maurer’s permanent collection. Photo © Ingo Maurer GmbH.

Designed in 1992, Lucellino Wall (modelled here by Ingo Maurer), is made using glass, brass, plastic and hand-crafted goose-feather wings. Photo via Dezeen.

Zettel’z 6 was designed in 1998. With forty printed and forty blank sheets of Japanese paper, the user has plenty of scope for personal creativity. Photo © Ingo Maurer GmbH.

A recent creation by Ingo Maurer, the limited edition ‘Butterflies dreaming’ was designed in 2018. Photo © Ingo Maurer GmbH.