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As is so often the case, many post-war designs were those whose seeds were sown before conflict interrupted the process. Italy’s design powerhouse was in the north.

Milan had long been home to designers and architects and, since the 1930s, hosted the Triennale exhibition which became an international showcase for the best new design ideas from around the world. Post-war activity consolidated this position and the city remains a major design centre today.

Lighting glitters


Max Ingrand created this typically 1950s amoeba like design for Fontana Arte c.1950-55. It is made from brass polished and matt glass, and realised €12,000 (£10,715) at Piasa on October 24.

One of the fields in which the home country excelled was that of lighting. Strikingly bold, stripped-down pieces making dramatic use of metal and glass and looking sometimes like abstract sculptures, others like space satellites, benefited from designers with an industrial background.

Key players in this field were Angelo Lelli and Gino Sarfatti, both lighting designers with their own firms. Lelli’s company, known as Arredoluce, founded in Monza in 1943, and Sarfatti’s firm Arteluce, formed in 1939, rose to international prominence in 1950s.

Other well-known Italian names who turned their talents to lighting design included Max Ingrand, who worked for Arte Fontana, and the multi-talented Gio Ponti, who produced designs for Lelli’s Arredoluce.

Pictured here are three examples of mid-century Italian lighting sold recently in Paris auctions.