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Marc Sadler

Issue 45 Oct / Nov 2008

Marc Sadler talks to mondo*arc about design, ‘no design’, and the extension of his Twiggy range for Foscarini

Naturally elegant and simplistic in design, Twiggy was hailed a modern day Arco when it was first launched in 2006. Following its success, designer Marc Sadler has now introduced two new additions to the family.

Twiggy’s instantly recognisable frame moulded from composite lacquered material with a fibreglass base is available in four bold colour finishes of nero, bianco, rosso, and giallo. These characteristics have found a new means of expression in the Twiggy Table XL and Twiggy Reading Lamp, adding to the floor and suspension lights already in the collection.

Born in Innsbruck, Austria, and now living in Milan, Italy, Marc Sadler’s career began with a passion for technology and experimentation with new materials. It was through one of his experimental projects (a ski-boot in thermoplastic material) that he began to work in the sports sector and, in 1971, began a collaboration with Caber, for which he later patented the symmetrical shell design which was to remain the most successful ski-boot of its kind for several years.

After years spent dedicating his efforts to the sports and industrial sectors, picking up a number of accolades for his landmark designs, Sadler’s activity branched into furniture, including the technical-specialised segment, where he continues to work with prominent companies. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that Sadler was recognised for his lighting design skills.

First designing the Drop lamp for Flos, Sadler now has an ongoing creative relationship with Italian lighting company Foscarini. This partnership resulted in the birth of Twiggy in 2006, which followed earlier designs for Foscarini Tite and Mite (2000), Lite (2001), and Kite (2003), all of which take elements from Sadler’s design philosophy.   

“I like to experiment with different techniques and technologies to use in unusual applications, trying to obtain new and possibly pleasing effects,” he says. “I’m lucky enough to work in very diverse sectors and I’ve come to realise that often in industry, knowledge is placed in hermetically sealed compartments, not passing from one sector to another. However in the case of my collaboration with Foscarini on the Twiggy project, and also the previous ones, Tite and Mite, we used a technology that has been around for a while in the sports sector that I was very familiar with.”

Sadler believes that the simple shape and flexibility of the material’s performance makes Twiggy unique and different from the other products on the market: “The material is a carbon/fibreglass mix, put together with a binding resin. It has a high mechanical resistance and is extremely light and ductile.” The fact that it is ductile enables the creation of shapes that have been ‘stretched’ to the very limit and to obtain unusually sized diffusers. The flexibility of the material defines the ample and essential curve of the arm that carries the light source from the base, which is height adjustable thanks to a system of counterweights, and length adjustable with a set of arm extensions.

Despite the innovative design of Twiggy, Sadler labels it a ‘no design’ piece. “Basically Twiggy is nothing more than a conical diffuser trunk, a rod, and a support disc,” he says. “But it is the fusion of these three elements that creates the magic of this ‘no design’ object with its highly individual personality.” 

The original Twiggy bears aesthetic similarities to the Castiglioni brothers’ classic Arco floor lamp, which Sadler sites as one of the all-time design greats. The latest additions, Twiggy Table XL and Twiggy Reading Lamp, feature similar properties to its predecessors but without the curved arm. Their signature cut-off diffusers ensure glare protection and maximum exploitation of the light source that directs light downwards and reflects it upwards. All feature a shade made from the unique compound fibre material that gives the Twiggy light shades a subtle textured surface.

Saddler designed Twiggy exclusively for Foscarini, who pride themselves on developing successful partnerships with architects and designers with different degrees of professional experience and creative flair. Director Carlo Urbinati says: “We are very lucky to have collaborated with a variety of extremely talented designers throughout the years. When selecting pieces for the collection, first and foremost, we choose the product and the concept behind each piece rather than the name behind the design. This is one of the company’s main characteristics and, together with a desire to continue to be innovative, it has led us to create a collection of lamps with very strong character and personality.”

Whilst working in various other sectors, Marc Sadler’s collaboration with Foscarini looks set to continue as the designer talks about the desire to “develop a family of products suitable for different uses based around one concept or aesthetic idea”, much like Twiggy’s ever-growing family. He also adds: “We’re currently working on new ways of using the fibre material for even more revolutionary variations.” So watch this space.

By Catherine Martin


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