Universal Lanterns

Fontana Arte from the Collection of Howard Hoffman

Stars by Maxfield Parrish, 1927

Howard Hoffman was first introduced to the world of lighting at the Philadelphia design shop, OLC. He recalls the experience with an air of romance, and describes feeling enamored with the light—the same feeling one gets underneath the stars. He began collecting shortly thereafter, frequenting showrooms and warehouses in the Philadelphia area to snatch-up examples of the postmodern designs that were taking over the scene. As a result, Hoffman was introduced to the head of sales for the iconic Italian glassworks, Fontana Arte and began ordering designs en masse. 

Works by luminaries including Gae Aulenti, Piero Castiglioni, Pietro Chiesa, Michele de Lucchi and Umberto Riva filled his shelves and Hoffman began dealing himself. He describes the period as an idealistic time, fueled by a principal belief that design was a universal language and lights were universal lanterns. Recounting the moment, Hoffman evokes the 1927 painting Stars by Maxfield Parrish. Seated on the coastline, a woman gazes reverently at the night sky. Scattered stars illuminate the canopy above and daylight fades into the horizon. The experience is universally understood and appreciated by anyone who has contemplated the night sky, and the same holds true for good design. The works offered here are from Hoffman’s personal collection and have illuminated rooms and minds for over 20 years. 

Superficial aspects, the unnecessary, can be extremely important. This is not decadence; on the contrary, it is a high level of sophistication concerning our relationship with the things around us.

Michele de Lucchi

Michele de Lucchi b. 1951

Italian architect and designer Michele de Lucchi was born in Ferrara in 1951. He studied in Padua and Florence founding the radical “Gruppe Cavart” for experimental architectural design. After meeting Ettore Sottsass, he was invited to join Studio Alchimia in Milan and was also involved with the Memphis Group design movement. In 1975, de Lucchi graduated in Architecture from the Florence University then taught for two years as an academic assistant.

De Lucchi’s expansive range of design projects includes furniture, interior design, lighting, and architecture. He has designed for European companies such as Artemide, Alias, Unifor, Hermès and Alessi. From 1992 to 2002 he was Director of Design for Olivetti developing experimental projects for Philips, Siemens, Compaq Computers, and Vitra. In 1998 he founded the architectural studio aMDL, opening offices in Milan and Rome, and designed corporate work spaces for Deutcsche Bank and UniCredit. His wide range of architectural projects includes the Expo 2015 pavilions for the City of Milan and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia.

A widely respected educator, he was appointed to be Professor of the Design and Art Faculty at the University of Venice in 2001, Professor at the Design Faculty of the Politecnico of Milan in 2008, and awarded an honorary doctorate from Kingston University in 2006. His work is included in the collections of the Neues Museum Berlin, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Triennale di Milano.

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Auction Results Michele de Lucchi