About Artemide Tolomeo
Set up in Milan in 1959 by Sergio Mazza and Ernesto Gismondi, Artemide has an international reputation for its designer- and architect- created lighting. Still based in the Pregnana Milanese suburb, the award-winning company has worked with many big name designers and architects like Neil Poulton and Sir Norman Foster. Examples of its beautiful lamps are featured in museums including the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in Rome, and New York's Metropolitan Museum Of Art and Museum Of Modern Art.
Among Artemide's best-known work are Richard Sapper's Tizio lamp and the Tolomeo, created in 1986 by Michele De Lucchi and Giancarlo Fassina and still valued as a modern design classic. Named for the Greco-Roman scientist and mathematician Ptolemy, the original Tolomeo anglepoise work lamp consisted of a heavy base, a polished aluminium arm in two sections and an incandescent lamp in a matte aluminium reflector head which swivelled through 360º. The beam could be precisely directed due to tension cables and springs concealed within this minimal design.
The Tolomeo was a design icon of the 'dotcom' boom but has also always been valued as a supremely practical artefact by graphic artists, architects and draughtspeople. The design won Artemide the rare and prestigious Compasso d'Oro design prize in 1989, and an example is on display at the industrial specialist Design Museum of Thessaloniki.
The supreme versatility and beauty of the original has persisted through decades. The precision engineered cables are now displayed outside the arms, and 'micro' and 'mini' table sizes and floor lamp versions are available in addition to the standard size, with halogen or LED lamps, and in black matte versions. An eighties original Tolomeo might be of particular interest to a collector.