In 1987 – 30 years ago – the designer and architect Michele De Lucchi created a lighting icon for Artemide.

Today, the Tolomeo lamp is outstandingly successful across the globe. In architectural offices, in agencies, apartments and hotels, in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and on the desks of the world's greatest minds – everywhere where good lighting and style come together.

From 13 to 30 July, Artemide is honouring Tolomeo designer Michele De Lucchi with a retrospective in the Hamburg architectural practice of von Gerkan, Marg and Partners.


As the co-founder of the Memphis design movement, Michele De Lucchi initially designed post-modern residential properties before creating the timelessly classic Tolomeo lamp. The Hamburg retrospective illuminates the history of the birth of the Tolomeo – and uses architectural models, sketches and products to present his creative work in all its diversity – from the 1980s though to current projects being run by "Studio De Lucchi" and his company "aMDL" based in Rome and Milan.

Michele De Lucchi

In 1987, Michele De Lucchi produced his masterpiece – the timeless Tolomeo lamp for Artemide. Here, he explains what inspired him to create this enduring concept which is now part of design history.

I designed the Tolomeo in 1986. Perhaps I ought to say that I invented it, as in point of fact the idea for a new mechanism came before the lamp was created.

The mechanism actually came about while watching the fishermen. It struck me that you can suspend a rod with something attached to it using a small lever arm and a cable. That was the frame of reference work I had in mind when I designed the Tolomeo.