Door 14: Ingo Maurer

Photography by © Robert Fischer

A key factor of Design is tactility, as normally these are products of everyday use. But working mainly as a lightning designer Ingo Maurer described himself to be "very lucky to work with the material which does not exist". This led to his nickname the poet of light.

He was born in 1932 on the island Reichenau at German part of Lake Constance to a fisherman father. Growing up between two world wars, he had to leave school early and took on an apprenticeship as a typesetter at a a local newspaper. Later on, he studied graphic design in Munich and in 1960 left to move to the United States. There, living in New York and San Francisco, he worked as a freelance graphic designer for companies like IBM. Already in 1963, he moved back to Germany and founded his company initially called Design M.

Photography by © Ingo Maurer

Designwise, he had his breakthrough in 1966 with a simple idea, he had while in Venice. A simple light bulb covered by a light bulb shaped glass, simply called Bulb. The lamp was included in design collection of the Museum of Modern Art in 1969. This initial idea led to his focus on designing lightning. Famous are for example his lightning system YaYaHo, developed in 1984, which are customizable and made the user the designer.

Photography by © Ingo Maurer

The approach to design by Ingo Maurer is not easily summarized, as there is not a clear language in them. It is rather this incoherence and his playfulness that are in each of his designs. Next to that he was also constantly curious and was one of the first designers to use LED as a lightning source in 1996. Next to lamps he also designed lightning concepts for subway stations in Munich or installations for Issey Miyake.

Also he was regularly featured in exhibitions in instutions like Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Stedelijk Museum, Vitra Design Museum or the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. He died in October 2019 aged 87 in Munich.