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Richard Sapper

Alessi Espresso coffee maker by Richard Sapper

“Tizio” table lamp, 1972

Richard Sapper (born 1932 in Munich) is a German industrial designer located in Milan, Italy. He has received numerous international design awards, including 10 prestigious Compasso d’Oro industrial design awards, the first being in 1959, and 15 of his products are in New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) permanent collection.

After working as a designer at Mercedes-Benz, Sapper relocated to Milan and partnered with Italian designer Marco Zanuso. They were hired in 1959 as consultants to Brionvega, an Italian company trying to produce well-designed electronics that would compete with products manufactured in Japan and Germany. Together they designed a series of radios, televisions and other consumer electronics that became enduring icons. One of their more notable designs was the rounded, compact and portable Doney 14 (1962), the first television to feature completely transistorized construction. Using the aesthetic of sculptural minimalism, the pair designed the compact folding Grillo telephone for Siemens and Italtel in 1965. The Grillo was the first telephone with a flip-down mouthpiece, and today is a featured display at New York’s MoMA.

After starting his own independent studio, Sapper created the iconic Tizio lamp in 1972 for Artemide, Sapper Office Chair for Knoll (company) in 1979 and Melodic kettle for Alessi (company) in 1983. In 1980 he became the IBM corporate industrial design consultant and began designing portable computers, including the first ThinkPad 700C in 1992 and follow-on models such as ThinkPad 770. Sapper continues today to influence the iconic ThinkPad brand as design consultant to Lenovo after it acquired the IBM PC Division in May 2005.

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