looking back: designboom revisits ingo maurer interview from 2001, following his recent passing

looking back: designboom revisits ingo maurer interview from 2001, following his recent passing

on october 21, 2019, german designer ingo maurer passed away at the age of 87. born in 1932, maurer is known for his pioneering luminaire and light designs, including his first work ‘bulb’ (1966), the low voltage halogen system ‘YaYaHo’ (1984, ingo maurer and team), the winged light bulb ‘lucellino’ (1992), the pendant lamp ‘zettel’z’ (1997), ‘one from the heart’ (1989), and ‘porca miseria!’ (1994).


on this sad occasion, designboom revisits our meeting with maurer at his exhibition at the cologne fair on january 15, 2001, and compiles a few of his top projects — among many. 



designboom (DB): what is the best moment of the day?


ingo maurer (IM): there are different moments: in the morning when I wake up, when I am in harmony with my wife, and sometimes at work.

ingo maurer interview
bulb, 1966



DB: what kind of music do you listen to at the moment?


IM: south american music, I love cuban salsa (I used to dance salsa).

knitterling, 1978



DB: do you listen to the radio?


IM: yes, but not often.

ingo maurer interview
savoie, 1979


DB: what books do you have on your bedside table?


IM: right now the quran (I try to understand it).

ingo maurer interview
one from the heart, 1989



DB: do you read design magazines?


IM: very little.

ingo maurer interview
lucellino, 1992



DB: where do you get news from?


IM: the süddeutsche zeitung, the new york times.

porca miseria!, 1994



DB: do you notice how women are dressing? do you have any preferences?


IM: I don’t like it when women follow fashion fads. today so-called ‘elegance’ is very common, thanks to those ‘fashion-makers’. but good taste is always on the razor’s edge, you need courage and self-awareness, today I see very little ‘elegance’ around — there are a lot of mannequins.

hot achille, 1994



DB: what kind of clothes do you avoid wearing?


IM: (pause) sometimes I avoid wearing red. not that I don’t like it, my kitchen is all red, but it disturbs me as a color for clothing for myself.

zettel’z, 1997



DB: do you have any pets?


IM: no.

johnny b. good by ingo maurer, bernhard dessecker 2002



DB: where do you work on your designs and projects?


IM: in the bath tub, in my car, in the kitchen. at the beginning it is a sort of perception…one is always pregnant with ideas.

oh man, it’s a ray!, 2009



DB: who would you like to design something for?


IM: I have some fantastic commissions, I am fortunate. at the moment I am creating a 40 meter long sculpture made of light for the toronto international airport. doing a government commission is complex, lots of bureaucracy, but in the end I prefer public commissions to private ones.

broken egg, 2008



DB: is design an independent artistic discipline?


IM: when I hear the word ‘artistic’… a single screw is amazing. is it not ‘art’ what happens between me and an object?




DB: which of your projects has given you the most satisfaction?


IM: the next.

‘pierre ou paul’, 1996 westfriedhof (w-subway station), munich, 1998
photo © markus tollhopf



DB: when you are working, do you discuss or exchange ideas with your colleagues?


IM: yes with my team, and with my good friend ron arad…

light planning for the camper shop in soho, new york, 2000



DB: describe your style, like a good friend of yours would describe it.


IM: I follow my instincts, I love to take risks, I am a gambler.

interior lighting for a staircase and entrance hall at KPMG, munich, 2001
photo by engelhardt sellin



DB: when you were a child, what did you want to be?


IM: an equilibrist.


DB: can you tell us something about your double role as a designer and a producer?


IM: I live the conflict of being productive, I create certain objects because they allow me to express my drives, which is necessary for me.

UNICEF crystal snowflake, new york, 2004
photo by jonathan b. ragle, new york



DB: is there any architect or designer from past you appreciate a lot?


IM: alvar aalto, saarinen.


DB: and those still active, are there any particular ones you appreciate?


IM: I like álvaro siza very much.

spazio krizia (flying flames chandelier in front of a reproduction of the last supper), milan, 2013
photo by tom vack



DB: you have always worked with young designers bringing them to the public’s notice, what can you tell us about the latest generation?


IM: there are some creative designers, but most of them are too self-assured. I am perennially in doubt, I think that insecurity is an important starting point.

torre velasca for AUDI, milan, 2016
photo by saverio lombardi vallauri/ tom vack



DB: on the news broadcast they said that italians are afraid of unemployment, criminality, and pollution. what are you afraid of regarding the future?


IM: I fear flattening. here we are at the cologne fair and it is a perfect example. everything is on the same level, but nothing is provocative. I fear mediocrity which infiltrates relationships. it is a real shame.




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