German designer Ingo Maurer was known as a 'poet of light' for how he artfully created lamps that married form and function, from bulbs that soared on goose-feather wings to chandeliers that suspended bursts of shattered tableware like a slow-motion explosion. One of his first lamps, a 1966 design that was merely called Bulb, nested a lightbulb inside a larger glass lightbulb shape, drawing on his connection to German art traditions of reductive forms as well as Pop art and the playful aesthetics of 1960s pop culture. The success of Bulb - its fans included American design icon Charles Eames - led to the founding of his own company to produce this provocative fixture as well as other fantastic lighting designs.
Born on the island of Reichenau in Lake Constance in southern Germany, Maurer apprenticed at a newspaper before moving to the United States in 1960. In New York and California, Maurer initially worked as a graphic designer for IBM and elsewhere before returning to Germany with his then-wife, designer Dorothee Becker, in 1963. The experience that Maurer gained in typography and bold forms was regularly expressed in the lamps crafted by his company, which was called Design M before the name was changed to Ingo Maurer GmbH. The lighting manufacturer is still based in Munich.
Some of Maurer's pieces were minimal, such as a ceramic table lamp in 1996 he called Broken Egg, which radiated light from a fissure in an oblong shape, while others were monumental, such as the designer's last completed installation - a colossal chandelier composed of over 3,000 silver-plated leaves - in Munich's Residenztheater. Maurer was always at the forefront of lighting innovations, exploring holograms, LEDs and OLEDs in his projects. Through his company, the venturesome Maurer also promoted inventive new designers, including Moritz Waldemeyer, whose My New Flame (2012) imagined a futuristic candle with LEDs.
Ingo Maurer GmbH continues to produce the late designer's distinctive table lamps, chandeliers and other fixtures, including the imaginative Bulb that started it all.