Rodolfo Dordoni started working with Italian lighting company Foscarini in 1990. The Milan-based designer creates furniture and products manufactured by leading brands such as Minotti, Kettal, Molteni & C, and Moroso; he also designs private and commercial spaces with his studio, Dordoni Architetti.
In 1990, Dordoni was brought on to help reinvigorate Foscarini. The Italian company, founded in 1981, was a producer of Murano glass. As Dordoni has said of the brand, "Its home was Murano, but its mentality was not exclusively rooted there." The efforts to rebrand involved "making Foscarini into a 'lighting' company, more than a producer of blown glass," he said.
Dordoni designed a lamp that became Foscarini's first commercial success. The Lumiere, which he has described as a "glass hat with a tripod," featured an aluminum base and introduced a new idea for the company—that two separate materials could be brought together in a dynamic way, expanding the company's solely glass-focused approach. "The casting of aluminum was a very contemporary, new idea at the time," he said.
Foscarini reinvented the Lumiere for the brand's 25th anniversary in 2015 with a new design by Dordoni. Dubbed Lumiere 25th, the updated version features a metallic lamp shade made with four overlapping layers of glass. It takes 100 hours of hand labor to produce the shade.
Following a line of Buds suspension lamps that was also introduced in 1990, this year Foscarini will release a Buds table lamp designed by Dordoni. The piece features a plastic base with a hand-crafted glass shade. Five layers of mouth-blown glass are joined together to form Buds's sculpted form.
Asked what differentiates the design market today from when he started with Foscarini in 1990, Dordoni mentions the consumer's shorter attention span. Back then, "the things you designed were more extensively thought out," he has said. "Today's consumer has been influenced by other merchandise sectors (i.e. fashion and technology) not to desire 'lasting' things."
With his designs, he tries to counter this short-sightedness. "When a product (like Lumiere) has such a long life in terms of sales, it means it is self-sufficient, a product that wasn't necessarily paying attention to trends, at the moment," he said. "That is precisely what makes it appealing, somehow."