Photographer: Mai Nestor
Just in time for the launch of Alphabeta Floor Lamp, we visited the busy Luca Nichetto at his Stockholm atelier to talk about his journey as a designer and the idea behind the Alphabeta Lamps.
Browsing Luca Nichetto’s CV is a little like flicking through the Who’s Who of international design. Born on Murano, the Venetian island entirely dedicated to the production of fine glassware, the young Nichetto was marked from birth. “Ninety-nine per cent of people — my grandparents, parents and friends — were involved in the industry. For me, becoming a designer was not a choice, it was a calling.”
As such, he enrolled at the glass department of the Venice Institute of Art before taking up industrial design at the city’s University of Architecture. During the summer months he would make extra money by selling his drawings to anyone who’d have them and as fate would dictate he met Simon Moore, the English creative director at Salviati, a giant in the glass producing industry. He bought Nichetto’s entire portfolio but refused to produce any of it, offering him instead the opportunity to learn underneath him.
“I accepted the challenge and at that time Salviati was collaborating with Anish Kapoor, Ross Lovegrove, Ingo Maurer and Tom Dixon — a lot of important designers and artists — so I had the chance to see a different approach, a different way to explain your ideas. I learned more during that time at Salviati than all my years at university,” he says.
A little later, the lighting company Foscarini invited Nichetto to become an external research and development consultant and his lamp designs earned him attention from other brands. “At that time my professional life overlapped with my personal life because I met a Swedish girl who became my wife. I began travelling to Sweden and approached some companies there. That opened the eyes of the big brands in Italy such as Molteni, De Padova and Cassina. Many doors opened internationally, and I started working not only in Italy or Sweden but all around the world,” he continues.
When Hem approached Nichetto to design the Alphabeta range of lamps, his nomadic international lifestyle would directly influence the design. “In 2018 it is much easier to fly anywhere or communicate with anyone, and people are more nomadic than in the past. We used to live in two or three homes in our lives and now people live in five or six. Alphabeta is the classic lamp that you might buy as a single person but then move in with your girlfriend and you can buy another shade for your new needs. In that way you carry this product forever. This is a new “eco” approach, not just using ecologically sound materials but creating a product that is as flexible and nomadic as the user,” he says.
His own move to Sweden in 2011 to open his permanent studio had its own unique effect on the way he works. “People are influenced by the environment in which they are living so changing your behaviour and adapting to a new culture makes you understand different standards and a different way to see and use a product. The truth is that what I learned in Scandinavia and Sweden is that functionality and respect for the environment are topics that I never heard in Italy,” he says.
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Alphabeta Floor Lamp