Italian Scientists and Scholars of North America Foundation
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Gismondi, the creator of Artemide
Rome - (Adnkronos Multimedia) - An entrepreneurial adventure started almost by chance and in extremely unusual circumstances led to the creation of Artemide, the world leader in lighting system design. It was set up in 1959 by 2 friends, Ernesto Gismondi, an aeronautics engineer who until then had been involved above all in designing and building missiles, and Sergio Mazza, a young architect specialised in interior design and furnishing accessories. The Italian design style, which in subsequent decades would conquer the world, had not yet been fully consolidated. Gismondi and Mazza began producing lamps, and then also furnishing accessories and furniture, above all in plastic. The company grew, and in 1972 moved onto international markets with the Tizio lamp, now considered a masterpiece of industrial design. Artemide's latest achievement is the extraordinary lighting project for the Formula One circuit in Shanghai, which uses 400 solar powered poles, capable of projecting beams of light for up to 10 km.
Today the Artemide group has a turnover of over âŹ 100 million, with 16 controlled companies, 35 exclusive distributors all over the world and production facilities in Italy, France, Germany, the United States, Hungary and the Czech Republic. The company is still run by Ernesto Gismondi, now 74, who can now finally also boast the most prestigious international industrial design prize, the Compasso d'Oro, awarded to Artemide in 2004 for the "Pipe" lamp.
"The prize," says Ernesto Gismondi, "is a highly prestigious confirmation of our expertise in the world of lighting, on which our success is based. Our expertise is comprehensive and covers various strategic areas, above all innovation in light sources, optics and electronics. Then there is what we call light management, and lastly, research and technological experimentation".
How important are research and innovation in the story of Artemide?
"I can quote a telling statistic: we invest around 7% of our annual turnover in innovation and technological development".
What has been the most successful Artemide product?
"Without doubt the Tizio lamp. It was launched in 1972 from an idea by Richard Sapper, an architect born in Germany but who grew up in the Milan school of design. He came to find me with a prototype made with iron discs and pieces of wood. It was an ingenious idea: using a very small 12V car lamp, without connecting wires between the base and head of the lamp. The electricity is conducted by the support structures, connected to each other with automatic buttons like those used in clothing. We have produced over 2 million of these lamps. I believe it is the best known and most widely used lamp in the world".
Are innovation and technology the only explanation for these results?
"No, they are not enough on their own. Designing means planning, and it is important to mention that we plan for people, for the quality of the environments where they live and work. People must be given the best conditions possible, and that also includes lighting".
What are your company's future challenges?
"Above all to maintain the position of leadership that we have achieved. And then to make inroads into new markets. I'm thinking about China, where we have already been present for a number of years, and where we are working on the lighting for the new Theatre in Peking. In Shanghai we will open Artemide China. This is an extremely important market, a great opportunity for Italian industry, despite the fact that it also represents a threat - just think that Artemide is one of the brands most copied by Chinese producers".
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