Ingo Maurer (1932 – 2019) – industrial designer – Poet of Light

Ingo Mauer featured image

Ingo Maurer’s kooky love of technology inspired him to create lights out of found materials like scrawled notes, tea strainers, and incandescent bulbs outfitted with feathered wings.

Ingo Maurer was a German industrial designer who specialised in developing lighting fixtures and installations. “Poet of Light” was his nickname. Maurer’s work has been praised for the way he incorporates cutting-edge lighting technology into beautiful, creative, and occasionally amusing lamps and lighting systems. As a result, it has been dubbed ‘trans-high-tech’, along with Italian lighting designers the Castiglioni brothers, a style that emerged in the mid-1980s as a reaction to the high-tech of the 1970s and is defined by an almost casual approach to lighting technology.

Porca Miseria! Chandelier 1994 by Ingo Maurer
Porca Miseria! Chandelier 1994 by Ingo Maurer


Maurer grew up on Reichenau Island in Lake Constance, Germany, as the son of a fisherman. He had four siblings. He studied graphic design in Munich after an apprenticeship as a typesetter. In 1960, Maurer moved to the United States. He worked as a freelance graphic designer in New York and San Francisco, including for IBM. In 1963, he returned to Germany and founded Design M, a company that develops and manufactures lamps based on his designs. Later, the company was renamed “Ingo Maurer GmbH.” The Bulb (1969), one of his first creations, was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s architecture collection in 1969.

Lucellino Doppio winged light by Ingo Maurer
Lucellino Doppio winged light by Ingo Maurer

YaYaHo low-voltage wire system

He introduced the YaYaHo low-voltage wire system in 1984, which consisted of two horizontally fixed metal ropes and a set of adjustable lighting elements with halogen bulbs, and it was an immediate hit. For the exhibition “Lumiรจres je pense ร  vous” (“Lights I Think of You”) at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Villa Medici in Rome, and the Institut Francais d’Architecture in Paris, Maurer was asked to create unique YaYaHo installations (Dormer, 1999).

YaYaHo Element 16 by Ingo Maurer
YaYaHo Element 16 by Ingo Maurer


The exhibition “Ingo Maurer: Lumiรจre Hasard Rรฉflexion” was held in 1989 at the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain (Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art) in Jouy-en-Josas, near Paris (Ingo Maurer: Light Chance Reflection). For the first time, Maurer produced lighting items and installations that were not intended for mass production.

Since 1989, his design and objects have been presented in various exhibitions, including the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1993). In 2002 the Vitra Design Museum organised Ingo Maurer โ€“ Light โ€“ Reaching for the Moon, a travelling exhibition with several shows in Europe and Japan. In 2007 the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York presented the exhibition Provoking Magic: Lighting of Ingo Maurer.


Use of LED’s

Maurer used LEDs to construct a variety of items. In 1996, the lighting object Bellissima Brutta was published. In 2001, he introduced the EL.E.Dee table lamp, which featured LEDs. He’s been experimenting with organic light-emitting diodes since 2006, unveiling two items in 2006, as well as a limited-edition table lamp.

Private & Public Light Installations

Ingo Maurer designed and planned light installations for public and private spaces and designed lamps for mass production. In Munich, he designed light systems for the Westfriedhof subway station in 1998. The Mรผnchner Freiheit U-Bahn station’s renovation and lighting concept debuted in December 2009. He created an installation for Issey Miyake for a fashion show in Paris (1999). He planned an entrance and lighting objects for the Kruisherenhotel in Maastricht from 2003 to 2005. He designed lighting objects and installations for the interior of Brussels’ Atomium in 2006.

Well known designs

Lucellino (1989), a winged bulb, and Porca Miseria! (1994), a suspension lamp made of porcelain shards is two of his most well-known designs. Maurer collaborated with a group of younger designers and developers beginning in the early 1980s.

Table lamp EL-E-DEE in metal and stainless steel produced by Ingo Maurer in 2001
Table lamp EL-E-DEE in metal and stainless steel produced by Ingo Maurer in 2001


2000 Lucky Strike Designer Award of Raymond Loewy Foundation, Germany

2002 Collab’s Design Excellence Award, Philadelphia Museum of Art

2003 Georg Jensen Prize, Copenhagen

2003 Oribe Award, Japan

2005 Royal Designers for Industry, Royal Society of Arts, London

2006 Honorary doctorate of Royal College of Art, London

2010 Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany

2011 Compasso d’Oro, category career


Dormer, P. (1999). The illustrated dictionary of twentieth century designers: the key personalities in design and the applied arts. Greenwich Ed.

Wikipedia contributors. (2019, November 7). Ingo Maurer. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:55, March 30, 2021, from

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