As a New York City native, Sonneman developed a strong interest in art at an early age and immersed himself in studies at both the Rhodes Preparatory School in Manhattan and the Art Students League of New York. After serving in the Navy, he became the sole employee at a lighting store, which is where he became seriously intrigued with modernism and European minimalism. After gaining a chunk of solid experience, he found he had acquired the necessary skills to actually engineer the products he was imagining, and opened his own factory at 23 years old.
Fast forward almost 50 years later and his products are just as relevant as ever, with some designs even being continued and enhanced with cutting-edge updates. Sonneman believes that lighting requires a deep commitment to technology and a clear knowledge of manufacturing, materials, and processes. His past and present designs are inspired by the work of modern masters including Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier, and Mies van der Rohe. Additionally, industrial design by Porsche, Knoll, and Braun has played a role in the way he has always approached his work. Scroll through these images to see how his commitment has revealed itself through the years.