Gae Aulenti died on Wednesday

Martinelli Luce Gae Aulenti Pipistrello 1965 Gae Aulenti died on 31 October after a long illness. There will obituaries everywhere that draw our attention to the work that she did, particularly with museums, for example: the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco; the conversion of the Palazzo Grassi in Venice; and, in Paris, the contemporary art gallery at the Pompidou Centre and the Musée d'Orsay:

Musee d'orsay paris

She was one of the first female architects to be awarded such prestigious projects.

See the obituary in the British Daily Telegraph here.

From our point of view, though, we were particularly aware of the spectacular glass art pieces that she designed for Venini. For example, Geacolor...

Venini Gae Aulenti Geacolor art glass

...a wonderful demonstration of her abilities as a designer and of the skills of the Venini glass workers. It bursts with colour and life. As with a Jackson Pollock, the energy used to bring it into existence (the maestro throws layers of coloured glass at it, very carefully, so each Geacolor is unique) is manifest.

The supplier of ours with whom she had the longest association, however, is FontanaArte, for whom she was Art Director from 1979 to 1996.  You can read their tribute to her here.

In 1980, she designed the coffee table with wheels (Tavolo con Ruote) for them...

tavolo con ruote for fontana arte gae aulenti

... and in 1993, she did a dining table version. Chasing the table round the room during dinner parties certainly breaks the ice!

Tour table FontanaArte Gae Aulenti

But the interest of Fine Lighting News readers is in her lights.

Only last week, I was talking to FontanaArte's Business Development Manager at Interieur Kortrijk and he identified Parola as one of his favourite lights in their collection. Here is the table version from 1980:

Parola table light Gae Aulenti FontanaArte

It is one of those designs that does not shout at you. It sits there quietly whilst you look at it and realize that there is nothing that should be changed -- every angle, every finish, the relationship between the parts, its functionality -- perfect. There is a floor version, Parolona:

Parolona floor light Gae Aulenti FontanaArte

and a wall version:

Parola wall light Gae Aulenti FontanaArte

Also in the current FontanaArte catalogue is Giova of 1964. It is a light that you can put plants into, or leave empty as light sculpture:

fontanaarte table light gae aulenti giova

She also designed Patroclo for Artemide. The diffuser is clear blown glass inside an irregular rhomboid metal frame:

Patroclo table light Gae Aulenti Artemide

But this post is headed up by her most iconic light -- one of the great lights of the 20th century -- Pipistrello (like the bat) of 1965 for Martinelli Luce:

Pipistella floor light table light gae aulenti fontanaarte

It is big (H66cm Ø55cm) and can be made even bigger, to H86cm -- the stem extends. The result is a light that has a massive personality -- it functions as a sculpture, not just as a light.

Martinelli Luce Pipistrello Gae Aulenti set

You can download the full datasheets here: Martinelli Luce Gae Aulenti Pipistrello datasheet.

Gae Aulenti (born Gaetana Aulenti):  4 December 1927 to 31 october 2012.

 gae aulenti

 

 

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