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Catellani’s Lighting Passions

Enzo Catellani tells Indesignlive.asia editor Janice Seow about his fascination with the many facets of light while in Singapore to launch his Italian label, Catellani & Smith.

Enzo Catellani tells Indesignlive.asia editor Janice Seow about his fascination with the many facets of light while in Singapore to launch his Italian label, Catellani & Smith.


December 12th, 2011

Enzo Catellani may have studied accounting back in school, but the urge to create with his hands has proven irresistible, and so too, his fascination with light.

PostKrisi table lamp (2004). Made of fibreglass, light interacts with colour and shape in an interplay of transparencies and contrasts.

PostKrisi suspension lamp

“There exists many different types of light, many different feelings, many different qualities. I’m very fascinated with natural light during different seasons and times of the day and the locations in the world it appears,” says the 61-year-old.


Stchu-moon Collection (1997). Crafted by hand, the designs show a separation of the light source from the lamp.

The creative force behind Catellani & Smith does with light what poets do with their pen, imaginatively capturing the idea of illumination in beautifully crafted artisanal works that are at times playful, at other times theatrical perhaps, but always intelligently enhancing the mood of a space.

Luna (2010/11). An evolution of technology through the essentiality of form.

Catellani began his lighting journey with a limited series of lamps, which he had designed for sale in his own shop in the 1980s. Then in 1989, the designs caught the eye of a German distributor who presented the lamps at Frankfurt’s Ambiente fair, where is quickly drew public attention.

PostKrisi table lamp (2004)

Catellani launched his own label – Catellani & Smith – that same year, the name inspired in part by his beloved racehorse, Logan Smith.

The playful and personal choice is not only a refreshing departure from his peers, but a window into the soul of a company that has remained a producer of small batch, uniquely crafted works, with Catellani as sole designer – helming a modest team of 45 staff, including craftsmen and engineers – despite its growing presence, and projects, globally.


Luna Del Pozza, part of the Out Collection (2002).

Installation of custom-made Fil de Fer lights at the Copenhagen Stock Exchange (2009).

On his approach to design, Catellani says he considers the function and the user, and thinks about “the most suitable material that can be applied for this function”. And then it’s a series of tests and experimentation for Catellani in his workshop to find the best possible outcomes.

Atman (2007), inspired by Catellani’s journey to India.

Wa Wa, part of the Eco-Logic Light Collection (2008) that incorporates the use of LEDs.

He has worked with numerous materials, but has yet to try his hand at glass, a direction he plans to look into for a new collection.

Part of the Lucenera Collection (2000) where the light source disappears, making way for the illuminated subject.

The studio may have only produced 8 collections in 20 years, but Catellani is quick to explain: “Once I’m inspired by one collection, such as the Eco-Logic Light collection using LED… from there, maybe I’ll develop and find many different models. Other firms normally use many designers… Me, I’m alone, so when there is one ’subject’ I will develop it in a horizontal way so it may take some time.”

Enzo Catellani’s workshop.

In 20 years, the moods, ideas and passions remain the same, says Catellani. “Each light of the same model is similar to the other but will it be unique because it’s handcrafted. It’s like a tailor-made suit.”

The Luci d’Oro Collection (1995) – inspired by the golden light of fire and the sun, using gold surfaces and warm lights.

Catellani & Smith is now exclusively available in Singapore at XTRA and in Australia at Hub Furniture.


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