Paying homage to a global legacy, we celebrate the history, change, and creative collaborations of the Italian lighting brand Foscarini.

Light is a fundamental aspect of our existence, holding significant importance in shaping our surroundings, enriching the design of buildings and interiors, and influencing human experiences in different spaces.

One brand that has crossed creative boundaries to deliver extraordinary lighting design is Foscarini. Available at Space Furniture, Foscarini has its roots firmly grounded in the classical Italian glass-making traditions of Venice where the brand was founded in 1981, yet the brand has evolved to explore a number of forward-thinking materials in order to achieve their ultimate objective; “to create lighting products that transform spaces,”.

Produced in partnership with Space Furniture

A Contemporary Lens on Heritage Detail

The Artistry and Innovation of Illumination with Foscarini
Foscarini Twiggy Dimmer Floor Lamp

The island of Murano in the gulf of Venice was the birthplace of Italian lighting company Foscarini in 1981. With centuries of glass making expertise all around them, the initial focus for the brand was on creating a contemporary design language with an emphasis on glass but the 80’s, particularly in Italy, was an era of fundamental change with radical movements like Memphis creating a seismic shift in the design landscape.

Foscarini embraced change right from its earliest years, launching pieces like Adam Tihany & Joseph Mancini’s, Wassily Off the Wall sconces colourful, geometric glass and lacquered metal designs inspired by abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky.  When Carlo Urbinati and Alessandro Vecchiato joined Foscarini as designers in 1988 they quickly took control of the company direction, relocating the headquarters to mainland Venice in 1994.

The move from an artisanal to an industrial location reflected the company’s desire to create a high-tech production model that allowed for exploration into materials beyond glass. It also signalled the start of a shift to commissioning designers from a variety of nations, something that continues to be an important part of Foscarini’s global outlook. Foscarini is a company that thrives on ideas, curiosity, the desire to experiment and experience,” says Carlo Urbinati, Foscarini president and founder. 

Designers from France (Ionna Vautrin), England (Tom Dixon), Spain (Patricia Urquiola), Switzerland (Atelier Oi), Japan (Nendo) and America (Marc Sadler) have all joined a long list of Italians on Foscarini’s roster of designers over the last four decades. Many have enjoyed critical acclaim and achieved numerous design awards such as the Compasso d’Oro won by Marc Sadler for his fibreglass and carbon fibre lighting creations Mite and Tite in 2001.

The brand’s broad-minded approach to materiality has allowed designers to bring concepts to life in a wide variety of ways with several of these becoming best sellers. Patricia Urquiola’s crystallike Caboche collection that used PMMA, Lucidi Pevere’s Aplomb, a series of cast cement pendant and floor lights, and Atelier Oi’s sculptural lighting structures Allegro & Allegretto made from bent metal rods have all become an important part of the history of contemporary lighting design 

Canopy House by Powell & Glenn

The Artistry and Innovation of Illumination with Foscarini
Foscarini Buds 2 Table Lamp

More recently Foscarini’s efforts in talent scouting has delivered further surprises in form and materiality with young Danish designer Felicia Arved’s Pli pendants in folded paper being released in Milan in 2023 alongside new designs by Rodolfo Dordoni, Andrea Anastasio, Ludovica and Roberto Palomba and Oscar and Gabriele Buratti. This mix of long-term collaborators and new talent has kept the brand’s products fresh and exciting while achieving some incredible technical break throughs.

Foscarini’s unwavering commitment to experimentation also manifests itself in their ongoing development of many of the brand’s early successes. Rodolfo Dordoni’s 1990’s table lamp, Lumiere, a simple but perfectly proportioned combination of cast aluminium and glass is a case in point. Rather than accepting the iconic status achieved by the fitting, the design has never stopped evolving with subtle new colours and manufacturing techniques delivering new looks and additional uses.  

While its true that Foscarini has moved well beyond its Murano roots of glassblowing to become a global lighting powerhouse, the brand continues to frequently release new designs in this ageold material. From Ionna Vautrin’s Asian Lantern-inspired Couchin pendant lights from 2011 to this years Chapeaux series of lights produced in clear laboratory-style pyrex glass by Rodolfo Dordoni, the brand retains a fascination with this incredibly beautiful and flexible medium. Also launched in 2023 was a family of asymmetrical blown glass lamps by Ludovica Serafini and Roberto Palomba called Hoba, (named after the meteorite) that push the concept of organic glass lighting even further than their already daring Gregg collection. 

Displaying all the exceptional qualities associated with traditionally blown Murano glass, the design perfectly exemplifies Foscarini’s dedication to creating inspired lighting. “The aim is to give the people who choose this lamp a unique sensation, such as only a crafted object can bring, but also with the affordability provided by manufacturing in a series” says Serafini. “Like all things made by human hands, Hoba has an ambiguous relationship with its form, displaying that perfect imperfection that triggers magic, curiosity, elective affinities with human beings,” adds Palomba. 

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The Artistry and Innovation of Illumination with Foscarini
Foscarini Gregg Grande Floor Lamp

With a list of lofty brand values including freedom, passion, innovation and poetry, it is hard not to be impressed by Foscarini’s desire to create light that evokes an immediate emotional response while retaining functionality. The Vite (Lives) project launched in 2020 takes the concept of how design interacts with the human experience and plays this back through glimpses of Foscarini lighting designs in real homes across three continents, 13 cities and 25 homes. An inspirational journey accessible from the brand’s website and through social media, Vite is a beautiful way to see how lighting can transform spaces and create human experiences.  

Freedom to create lighting designs without manufacturing constraints led to the Foscarini’s original move from the island of Murano. This delivered a company without a factory but one that is free to explore materials and manufacturing techniques of every kind using artisans and experts in every field. Above all it made people the central focus of the lights that were created, from the hands of the makers to the lives of those who used them. 

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