Thursday, 16 October 2014

Guzzini and me

An iconic name for any lovers of quality retro, Guzzini lighting is a classic combination of style and substance, proof that you don't need to sacrifice form over function

As the most accessible form of design, we have a bit of an obsession with lighting here in Space.
You may not be able to stretch to a big money designer or vintage sofa, or not be sure if you're quite ready for that huge statement artwork but every room in your house will need lighting and a great retro lamp is an effective, affordable way to create a great mood for a room.


I personally have a Vico Magistretti Mezza chimera floor lamp and a pair of Guzzini plastic mushroom ceiling shades, well Guzzini style!  These particular shades were widely copied through the 1970's so I thought I'd look into the companys history a little. With a little digging (HERE for example), it turns out that a lot of what I thought I knew was wrong! 




Did you know that the company was named after a giant invisible rabbit? Any quick search on the internet will bring up the name Harvey Guzzini, surely I can't be the only person who laboured under the illusion that this was a real actual person? One of the brothers, presumably? Seems not, in fact the older brothers-  Raimondo, Virgilio and Giovanni - on founding the business in 1959, named the company after James Stewarts giant invisible furry companion from the 1950 film 'Harvey'. 

They initially specialised in smaller homewares, copper trays and bowls but with the addition of younger brothers Adolpho, Giuseppe and Giannunzio to the team and the employment of designer and architect Luigi Massoni as art director by 1965 Guzzini were starting to produce the classics so sought after today.


Massoni encouraged the use of designers who were exploring the fast developing technologies of the sixties, particularly in plastics, Here's a fabulous example from 1970.
The Quadrifoglio table lamp designed by Gae Aulenti. Named after the four leaved clover that inspired it's organic shape, the futuristic, fluid shape is classic retro. 
This particular light is currently available on the Space website HERE






A much sought after Guzzini light that we've had in recently is the gigantic 'Clan' floor lamp. Much rarer, this was the first I'd seen of these outside of a design book.
There was a smaller table top version but this bigger one was an absolute gem.
Even writing this I'm wondering whether this one should have been gracing a corner of my own living room but it sold so quickly it didn't even make it onto the website.
Still, there's a very happy customer out there.
Here's a link to more info on the Clan on Object<>Plastic a great site specialising in classic plastic design



By the late 1970's Harvey Guzzini had morphed into iGuzzini (pre-empting the iPhone by a good 30 years!) and were specialising in industrial and architectural lighting rather than designing for the home. A shame of course, who knows where they would have taken design but by then stores such as Habitat and even BHS were selling many Guzzini style shades and lights. You can see the design influnces even today in IKEA. and the like, but for retro hunters the originals will always be the best.