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Donald Desk Lamp
Donald Desk Lamp – many think of Donald Duck

Adventurous modern lighting design

Arteluce was one of the modest businesses that contributed to Italian design’s international success in the 1950s. The company, founded in Milan shortly after WWII, produced daring modern lighting created by Gino Sarfatti. Alexander Calder’s mobiles partly inspired these abstract structures of coloured Plexiglas and metal. Arteluce continued to produce creative lighting in the 1980s, mainly for the contract interior industry. The Donald desk lamp by KING & MIRANDA had a yellow eyeshade on the main lamp, making much think of Donald Duck from Disney. Jill, a slim halogen floor lamp with a black enamelled stem and stained glass diffuser, was created by King & Miranda in collaboration with G. Arnaldi in 1980 and is still in production today.

Lighting & Architecture Balance

In 1958, the physical parts of a fixture, like the bulb sockets and power cord, became a part of the design instead of being hidden, making the Arteluce line stand out from other lighting lines. The first was a chandelier with 30 arms a small bulb, and a power cord.

In the 1960s, a wall fixture comprised one to seven frosted or clear Murano glass globes set in a black, mustard, or brown metal frame. Wires were hanging out in the open, and each pull-out globe could be moved to get a different effect.

'Jill' floor lamp by P.King, S.Miranda & G.Arnaldi for Arteluce, Italy 1978
‘Jill’ floor lamp by P.King, S.Miranda & G.Arnaldi for Arteluce, Italy 1978

Hub for Talented Designers

Arteluce became a creative nexus for Italy’s most skilled designers in the 1960s, creating creations by Franco Albini, Cini Boeri, Franca Helg, Ico Parisi, and Massimo Vignelli. One of Arteluce’s most prestigious projects was the lighting system for the Teatro Regio opera house in Turin, which included hundreds of suspended plexiglass tubes placed under the guidance of famed architect Carlo Mollino in 1972.

Nuvola light design at Teatro Regio in Turin. Photo: Creative Commons Wikipedia
Nuvola light design at Teatro Regio in Turin. Photo: Creative Commons Wikipedia

Sarfatti retired to Lake Como in 1973 after selling his business to Flos. Many Arteluce designs are still in production today, and several original models are permanently preserved in notable museums such as the New York Museum of Modern Art. Following the first retrospective exhibition of his work at the Triennale Design Museum in Milan in 2012, Sarfatti’s designs were reborn among vintage collectors.


Arteluce online Shop: Buy Vintage lighting At Pamono. (n.d.).

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Dormer, P. (1999). The Illustrated Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Designers. Greenwich.

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