Knoll hosted the launch of Richard Sapper, a new book published by Phaidon, on June 21, 2016 in the Knoll New York Showroom. The book, out this month, is edited by the designer and author Jonathan Olivares, with photography by Ramak Fazel. Richard Sapper, released so soon after the acclaimed designer's death earlier this year, promises an in-depth study of Sapper's work and design influences.
"The book is really Richard's project," Olivares told guests on Tuesday. Olivares and Fazel spent many hours speaking and researching with the late industrial designer in his homes in Milan and Lake Cuomo. Olivares said he treasured the relationship, noting that industrial design is too often "missing the professional bond between generations that other professions have."
Olivares decided to embark on a book on Richard Sapper's work after recognizing a gap in Sapper scholarship.
"Previous books and the cannon of design history have tended to position him as a minimalist, almost as a brutalist," Olivares said on Tuesday. "But behind that work was this incredibly humorous jokester who had tricks up his sleeve all the time. And many of his projects actually play very directly with that humor, like the work that he did for Alessi with the note that the teapot plays. and there are so many other projects that are just outright funny. I thought that was a story that hadn't been told."
Olivares and Fazel both thanked the Sapper family for welcoming them into their homes. By Fazel's account, the spaces were themselves sources of surprise and insight into the designer's unique perspective. He described a visit: "First we entered what seemed to be an office. But once we gained [Sapper's] trust and confidence...suddenly Richard saw to it to move a wall. And when he moved the wall, suddenly a living area appeared."
Richard Sapper died on New Year's Eve, 2015, at the age of 83. One of the most influential industrial designers of his generation, Sapper began his career working in the design department at Mercedes-Benz, before he joined Gio Ponti's architecture firm in Milan. Knoll worked closely with Sapper over many years to design seatingand, later, a series of monitor arms; the first collaboration, the Sapper Management Chair for Knoll, was influenced by Sapper's experience in the automobile industry. Throughout his prolific career, pioneering use, visual elegance and market accessibility have always remained hallmarks of Sapper's approach to design.
Benjamin Pardo, director of design, Knoll, introduced Ramak Fazel and Jonathan Olivares at the event. Pardo, who worked closely with Sapper at Knoll, described Sapper's work as gifts of utility and beauty that will improve the lives of those who use them. "His products that he gave to us will represent him through eternity," Pardo said.
Ramak Fazel, right, remarking on his collaboration with Jonathan Olivares, left, on Richard Sapper.
Guests mingle in the Knoll New York Showroom during the Phaidon book launch.
Read an essay by Jonathan Olivares on Richard Sapper on Knoll Inspiration.