portrait of Elio Martinelli

Elio Martinelli

Elio Martinelli was born in Lucca in 1922. He attended a vocational school and afterward obtained a diploma at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence as a stage designer. Over the years he lent his creative contribution to the development of his father’s lighting business, Plinio. After a few years, and after several experiences in stage design, he started his own business, located in the old town center in Lucca. At first, he focused on interior design and fitting for shops, restaurants, hotels and pubs. Because of the need to finish his plans, he drew and carried out lighting devices on his own.

In the 50s, production started and the first catalogue was issued. During these years, Elio Martinelli emphasized his simple and rigorous inspiration, giving a strong boost to his company which became a reference point for Italian lighting design. Elio Martinelli became well known in Italy, as well as abroad, and started to work with distinguished lighting designers, obtaining prizes and acknowledgments.

In 1996, during his leadership, the company took part in the first edition of Eurodomus, at the architect Gio’ Ponti’s invitation and afterward it was present at the editions in 1968, 1970 and 1972. It was also present to the 14th and 15th editions of the Milan Triennial in 1973 and to all the following editions of the Milan Fair, Intel and Euroluce.

Elio Martinelli has always been inspired by simplicity, geometry and nature considered from its manifold forms. He was intuitive with his use of new materials such as methacrylate, tested with different methods from the beginning of production and design. He searched for new ideas, new technologies and production systems, taking into account the constant evolution of sources of light. From these tests very different lamps result such as Foglia, Bolle, Flex, Serpente, Cobra, Nuvole vagabonde, Biconica and funny creations such as some models of the Martinelli Luce (Rondini, Cavallo Pazzo, Geronimo, and many others).

Some models of the Martinelli Luce collection entered outstanding museums and were present in several publications and displayed during exhibitions of the sector. Recently, with the introduction of new sources of light, Elio Martinelli steered designing towards a more technical sector: it integrates lighting systems and devices with big dimensions, of different typologies, and customized, designed for wide places and new needs.

Elio Martinelli was tireless, he spent every day in company until his death in 2004. And now, forty years later, lamps he designed, such as Cobra, Bolla, Semisfera, and many others, still boast original design, even in the context of the present day.

Rewire Selects by Elio Martinelli