Influential designer Richard Sapper dies in Italy

6th January 2016, Comments 0 comments

Richard Sapper, a hugely influential industrial designer who created everything from award-winning kitchenware and radio sets to cars and computers, has died at the age of 83.

Sapper, who was born and educated in Munich, Germany but spent most of his working life in Italy, was perhaps best known for his design of iconic espresso makers, in both their stovetop and electric, capsule-based forms, for upmarket kitchenware manufacturer Alessi.

He died in Milan on December 31, one of his publishers, London-based Phaidon, said on their website.

His funeral was held in Milan's Lutheran church on Tuesday. His daughter Carola told the New York Times that her father had died of complications resulting from cancer.

Phaidon described Sapper as "one of the most influential industrial designers of his generation", saying his best work synthesized a "formal simplicity and rigor, technical understanding not to mention a poetic humour."

A serial prize-winner, at least 15 of Sapper's designs are now showcased in New York's Museum of Modern Art or in London's Victoria and Albert and Design Museums.

The son of an artist of the same name, Sapper was born in Munich in 1932 and began his career working on car styling for German auto giant Mercedes-Benz.

He moved to Milan in 1958, initially to work for architect Gio Ponti and then the department store group La Rinascente.

He soon established himself as an innovative designer for hire, frequently in collaboration with another Italian architect, Marco Zanuso, with whom he worked on the "Cubo" radio and "Doney" television sets for electronics company Brionvega.

Other famous designs included 1960s designer phone the "Grillo" and "Tizio", a desk lamp that was one of the first to use low-voltage halogen bulbs and eliminated the need for wires by carrying the current through its multiple arms.

Sapper also designed the first ThinkPad laptop after being appointed principal industrial design consultant to US computer giant IBM in 1980.

His global reputation led to him being much in demand from prestigious academic institutions around the world.

In latter years, he passed on his knowledge, insight and experience to students at Yale, the University of Beijing and the Royal College of Art in London, among others.

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© 2016 AFP

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