Luceplan and the shape of light. Interview with Patrizia Vicenzi

Founded in 1978 by architects Riccardo Sarfatti, Sandra Severi and Paolo Rizzatto, it became part of the Philips Lighting Consumer Luminaires business in 2010; down through the years Luceplan has become synonymous with innovation and experimentalism in the ambit of lighting technology.  A trait that has clearly emerged during the latest edition of Euroluce, the biennial event running alongside Milan’s Salone del Mobile held in April, where we met up with the brand’s CEO, Patrizia Vicenzi.

What have you presented at this edition of Euroluce?

We have come to the event with various novelties. This year we are working with designers who have collaborated with Luceplan on more than one occasion and with whom we have built up a fruitful relationship since 2004, so we know each other very well.  On the strength of this, we have been able to fully reveal their expressive capacity, combined with the innovative boost the company can guarantee in the ambits of Research and Innovation, an on-going process we apply to both materials and light sources.

What are the most innovative elements characterizing your new proposals?

For the Stochastic chandelier, Daniel Rybakken’s idea has consisted in demolishing the traditional chandelier concept – therefore, devoid of a symmetrical repetition of each individual element – which, in this case, preserves the repetition of an identical element in an arrangement that is quite random.  Then, we have reinterpreted a product family of fixtures with lampshades, to a design by Inga Sempé.  Not an easy task, especially for a firm like Luceplan whose portfolio includes one of the most famous lamps of this kind, the Costanza model. Inga’s idea has been to add an element to this type of product, enabling the lampshade to be tilted by means of a simple movement of the hand, an intuitive gesture without any mechanism involved, detached from the structure of the lamp.  This result would not have been possible without carefully studying the question of balance, as in Odile Decq’s Soleil-noir: it seems to be suspended mid-air in defiance of the laws of equilibrium. This luminaire is moulded in polyurethane foam in a single piece, characterized by great visual impact and an asymmetrical suspension. Finally, Francisco Gomez Paz has focused on the extremely dynamic character of Mesh and has managed to control the light in a way that ensures maximum wellbeing, as well as creating a luminous atmosphere of great impact.

All of these fixtures are based on LED technology: innovation and sustainability go hand in hand, therefore …

If the market offers a technology that is valid, higher performing, more economical and energy-saving, I think we have the duty to exploit it to the full.  Our company invests heavily in innovation and this is the strength for which we are renowned. We believe that LEDs are the light source of the future and they are now an integral part of this world.

What do you look for in the designers that sign your products?

Without a doubt, it all stems from a question of affinity, but is also based on long-lasting relationships. Some arrive when they are already eminent professional figures whilst others are less technical but still make an important contribution, so different approaches are possible. Obviously we pay great attention to what is going on around us and try to avoid choices that are banal or simply dictated by the criterion of internationally acclaimed signatures.  We try to identify those who possess a talent for interpreting light, which is a magical gift.

So, is shaping the light a question of functionality or artistry?

Luceplan never starts out from the formal aspect of a product. Design is born of a function, a need or a light source which offers many possibilities for further elaboration. This is the starting point of product development. The artistic effect is the result of this process.

So what do we look for in lighting technology?

The answer is simple: wellbeing.  Besides energy consumption and function, all of these elements combine to create the maximum wellbeing for the environment we live in and that special atmosphere only light can convey.

One of your latest new developments is the recent opening of a showroom in New York: how important is this market for you?

The USA are an important target market that is heavily biased towards the contract industry and thanks to the fact that we have been operating there for a considerable time now, we have achieved some exceptional results. Last year we grew exponentially, by +10%. It is worth noting that, in the USA, Luceplan collections do not have the same ranking as they do in Europe and their consumption is completely different. At times, they are even considered to be ahead of market demand, especially in California where there is a great awareness of themes associated with the environment and acoustics. Here, for instance, we have a great demand for our lighting solutions that also combine an acoustic system: I am certain that this phenomenon will soon spread to our part of the world. So, it is fair to say that we are highly attuned to avant-garde needs and solutions.