ALDO LONDI TABLE LAMP FOR BITOSSI
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A shapely ceramic table lamp with a bubbly, light gray glaze, festooned with pink, biomorphic shapes between horizontal sgraffito stripes—all outlined in black. It rises from a conical, solid walnut base and was designed in the 1960s by master ceramicist Aldo Londi for BITOSSI CERAMICHE.
ALDO LONDI (1911-2003) was one of Italy’s most celebrated master ceramists. He spent most of his long and successful career creating exceptional works of great art and craft for the Italian ceramics firm Bitossi Ceramiche.
Just outside of Florence, Londi’s hometown of Montelupo Fiorentino had been an important center of pottery production in Tuscany since the Renaissance. At the age of eleven, in 1922, Londi went to work for the region’s then-premier ceramics workshop, Fratelli Fanciullacci (Fanciullacci Bros.). There he would master the time-honored methods of the local industry. Following WW II—upon his return to Italy from South Africa, where he was held captive as a prisoner of war—Londi became creative director at a second Montelupo manufactory, Bitossi Ceramiche. He would retain the position for more than 50 years.
Londi’s high-level technical expertise and vast experience in traditional artisanal methods allowed him to create distinctively expressive and whimsical forms and finishes for Bitossi. His best-known collection is perhaps the 1950s-era Rimini Blu, a now-iconic midcentury series that encompasses over 150 designs. The décor is a vibrant blue, densely embossed with abstract shapes and motifs that often create a frieze—fantastic loops of geometric elements endlessly chasing each other, enhanced by touches of green and cobalt. This proprietary decoration holds historical importance as it helped to bring handcrafted works into the modernist design conversation in Italy. Although not the only color Londi utilized, blue has become closely associated with his work. Londi’s last solo collection, ARKitectura, is a striking exception—it features elegantly minimalistic animal figures—fish, cats, shorebirds—glazed in monochromatic black, white, or platinum.
Starting in 1958, Londi began a fruitful collaboration with the legendary architect-designer Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007), who considered Londi an important mentor. During his tenure with Bitossi, Londi would also work with Piero Fornasetti (1913-1988), Matteo Thun (b. 1952), and Karim Rashid (b. 1960).
Most of Londi’s collections, are still in production today and are widely collected by ceramics enthusiasts. Many of his original works can be seen at the MAIB–Artistic Industrial Bitossi Museum in Montelupo, which is dedicated to the history of the company.
BITOSSI CERAMICHE was established in 1921 as Manifattura Ceramica Cav. Guido Bitossi & Figli by Guido Bitossi in Montelupo Fiorentino—a medieval hilltop Tuscan town with an ancient tradition of ceramic production, located a few kilometers outside Florence. The Bitossi family, documented in the area as early as 1536, had for centuries worked there as sculptors, as painters, but especially as potters. In the 20th century, under Guido’s leadership, they would introduce an extraordinary stylistic and formal renewal of their craft.
In the late 1940s, the master ceramist Aldo Londi (1911-2003) was named creative director at BITOSSI CERAMICHE. He would hold the position for more than 50 years and would design over 1,000 objects for the company. Himself a Montelupo native, Londi brought to BITOSSI a deep expertise in the traditional production of ceramics. At the same time, he keenly appreciated the streamlined forms of the mid-century moment. He is perhaps best known for his Rimini Blu collection, an iconic series comprised of over 150 designs; it is still in production today and widely collected by enthusiasts.
During Londi’s tenure, BITOSSI collaborated successfully with a host of famous designers, including the legendary architect-designer Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007). An avatar of 1960s counter-culture, Sottsass thought design should be provocative and sensual, and his avant-garde style blended well with BITOSSI’s mid-century aesthetic. Besides Sottsass, BITOSSI partnered with designers Piero Fornasetti, Karim Rashid, Arik Levy, Fabio Novembre, Benjamin Hubert, Matteo Thun, Monica Förster, and Cédric Ragot.
Today BITOSSI CERAMICHE is justly considered an institution. The Bitossi family and its foundation have amassed an archive of over 7,000 historical documents and materials related to the production of ceramics. The assemblage is housed in the Bitossi Artistic Industrial Museum in Montelupo. In 2014, BITOSSI became an official member of the Registry of Italian Historical Companies, appointed by the Italian National Union of Chambers of Commerce.
Designer – ALDO LONDI
Design Period/Year – 1960s
Maker – BITOSSI CERAMICHE
Production Period/Year – 1960s
Origin – ITALY
Styles/Movements – ABSTRACT; ITALIAN; MID-CENTURY MODERN
Materials – CERAMIC, WALNUT
Colors – LIGHT GRAY, RED
Shade – INCLUDED
Power – UP TO 120V (US STANDARD), CORDED, TYPE “A” PLUG
Condition – Excellent vintage condition.
Dimensions – 16" DIAM. × 33" H