Considered one of the true visionaries in lighting design, Ingo Maurer passed away at the age of 87 in his home of Munich on October 21, 2019. With over five decades of conceptually, thought-out and unexpected creations, Maurer earned the nickname “poet of light”. Not afraid to push the envelope with his playful and pioneering designs, the sculptor of light was among the first to adopt the latest technical innovations from LEDs to OLEDs.
His journey began over five decades ago, originally as a student of graphic design in Germany and Switzerland, before emigrating to the United Sates where he worked as a freelance designer in New York and San Francisco. Though he returned to Germany in 1966 and began his seminal company, Design M, with later mutated into Ingo Maurer GmbH, graphic design has remained a compelling force in his work. In each creation, the fundamental principles of graphic composition are visible, translated into the unique forms of his work and often referencing Bauhaus ideals on proportion, form, clarity, and reduction of the unessential.
Triggering Maurer’s self-taught career in lighting design was his fascination with the light bulb as the perfect meeting of industry and poetry. In 1966, inspired by Pop Art and as an homage to Edison, he designed Bulb, a table lamp in the form of a bulb within a giant light bulb that quickly established itself as a classic. His propensity to exploit the archetypal form of the bulb and highlight its understated utility and elegance became a running theme in his work, inspiring his iconic designs including Lucellino and the series Birds, among others.
Throughout his career, he won a number of the industry’s highest accolades, from the Compasso d’Oro to the Design Prize of the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as the title Royal Designer of Industry, which he was awarded by the British Royal Society of Arts. His work can be found in exhibitions and permanent collections in some of the world’s most important museums such as New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York’s Cooper Hewitt Museum and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam among others.
A longtime friend of Luminaire, Maurer’s unique and dynamic lighting has been exhibited in Luminaire showrooms prominently since 1984 and he has presented lectures at Luminaire in Miami and Chicago. He contributed a one-off piece at Luminaire’s PuppyLove and PaperLove exhibitions to support the University of Miami Sylvester’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Throughout the relationship with Ingo, many events and introductions occurred at Luminaire showrooms. Maurer’s MaMo Nouchies, collection of transcendent creations in an inspirational combination of paper, metal and stainless steel that telegraphs the fine delicacy of paper sculpture, premiered in the United States at Luminaire in Miami. Their seductive gestures are reflective of the poetic design approach of Ingo Maurer and highlight his artful combination of material and function as well as his ability to carefully study every detail until each part of the whole is perfected. Giving a simple material a new meaning, each is created entirely by hand, transforming plain sheets of paper are into a sculptural element of light.
Renowned the world over for his unmistakable streak of pure creativity and ingenuity, Maurer operated with a decidedly individualistic approach that is in no doubt influenced by his own travels around the world. He did not just design lamps — rather, he created lighting concepts that affect those who view them, providing the onlooker with a poetic meditation on the power of light. With clarity in design thinking and an acute sensitivity to material selection, his projects represented a passionate search for