Davide Groppi: “I’ll tell you about light…”

From a mechanical draftsman to a world-renowned designer. Davide Groppi invents and produces light. A physical and evanescent material that continues to show him the way…

Davide Groppi
Davide Groppi

“Sometimes I feel like a musician. I think, now I have to make a new lamp: it’s like sitting down at the piano and starting to ‘play,’ putting things together, building, gluing, cutting. In the end I can see something capable of telling a new story.” We can safely say that the debut of Davide Groppi was ‘enlightening,’ like the path he has taken in the design of lamps, punctuated by dazzling encounters and ideas, a distinctive flair and a clear taste for technology. First a small workshop in the center of Piacenza, then the coup of Maddalena De Padova who purchased 40 pieces, to display them during the Salone del Mobile at the space on Corso Venezia, which for many years was the unrivaled temple of signature design and a hotbed of talent. From that moment on, the success has never stopped.

Origine by Davide Groppi at Nomad Circle

What fascinates you about luminous objects?
Their fundamental component: light. I don’t like to say that I design lamps, but that I ‘narrate’ them: they are ideal letters of an alphabet of lights that can be mixed to become words and then stories.

How do you narrate seduction?
Seducing means bringing towards you. I like to think that lights are attractions, opportunities for an encounter, for the eyes and the emotions.

Ohm by Davide Groppi

Your creativity works through subtraction. How do you avoid banality?
Over time I have developed my own poetics, which lets me reveal my soul. I always pursue beauty through the search for truth. And my truth emerges through absence and essence. Sometimes also through irony. I like simplicity, lightness, emotion, invention and amazement. For me, avoiding banality means making ‘true’ projects.

New technologies (from LEDs on) have opened the way for unexpected design possibilities, which you have welcomed fully. If there are any limits, what are they?
I had trouble accepting the electronic revolution. But then I understood that luminous diodes would allow me to be even more romantic. A new way of writing with light thus began for me. Maybe the real limit lies in the fact that with LEDs everyone can do everything. It has already happened in graphic design, photography, music.

Nulla by Davide Groppi

Three fundamental elements you believe should never be missing in a technical lighting project.
I have a photographic vision of light. In the projects of environmental lighting I always imagine taking a photograph or even shooting a film. I always remember that photography means writing with light. And in cinema, light is called photography. So what should never be missing is the framing, the depth, the rhythm.

Every project you make has a recognizable imprint. Can you define it?
I look for consistency and diversity at the same time. I am aware of the fact that it is a contradiction, but that’s how it is. I like to think that my projects somehow manage to always generate a feeling of wonder.

How are you able to surprise while keeping faith with your style?
It’s hard. For me it means work that began almost 35 years ago, remaining in touch with my way of seeing light and the world.

What inputs have triggered your imagination?
It could be a material, a reflection of light on a piece of plastic, a technological invention, art, music, talking with a person. I have a maieutic approach to design.

Ohm by Davide Groppi

Are your intuitions more ‘luminous’?
I connect with meaning, prior to aesthetics. I am fond of my project Nulla (2010) because it is the denial of the entire so-called world of design, and also because it represents a technological moment and a humanistic approach to the project: the arrival of LEDs, secondary optics, the light of Caravaggio.

What has thrilled you most in your career as a designer and entrepreneur?
I am still amazed by the good luck I have had, to be able to express myself through what I do.

Your recent projects include Ohm and Origine. Can you tell us about them?
Ohm is the representation of a certain state of the art in the field of electronics. The current runs on a single very thin metal wire that can be extended in space with maximum freedom. And the light is arranged like laundry hanging on that line. It came to mind looking at images I saw in Naples, and also in Venice. Origine is a proposal for outdoor light. Let’s imagine that the ‘outside’ is another room in the house. Origine is a sprout of indirect light. An elegant tool to continue the eternal dialogue between accent lighting and indirect lighting.

Origine by Davide Groppi

Since 2018 Davide Groppi is part of Gruppo Italian Design Brands. What does that mean for you?
It is a choice of responsibility, imagining further growth of my company after the recent years of enormous success. It is an industrial project, but it protects the creative and independent part that has always been our trademark.