Angelo Lelii

Arredoluce was established in the wake of WWI, born of a need for a respite of playfulness and color as modern design was tasked with distancing the tragedies of war through the redefinition of daily life. Angelo Lelii (1915-1979), a former lathe-turner, began manufacturing lighting out of the basement of his Monza home outside of Milan as early as 1939, turning his perfectionist’s eye toward the marriage of contemporary aesthetics and technology. In 1947, publicity in Gio Ponti’s Domus magazine helped Lelii gain enough traction to launch Arredoluce. The following year he exhibited an elegant three-armed standing lamp of lacquered aluminum in primary colors with adjustable light fittings at the Milan VIII Triennale (now known simply as the “Triennale” lamp), establishing his reputation for seamless yet versatile fixtures. This playful lamp became immensely popular in the United States, indicating a rising demand for Italian design across the Atlantic. Lelii visited the U.S. several times a year, maintaining contracts with distributers and producers of his designs, as well as bringing the first General Electric halogen bulbs to Italy. Lelii had a lifelong love for the United States, which he credited as being the first to recognize his efforts in the production of creative and quality lighting for the modern age. He is remembered by his former employees as wearing a cowboy hat daily toward the end of his life. A large portrait of President John F. Kennedy also hung in his Monza showroom as a constant reminder of his prize client. Lelii catered to a number of prestigious customers, from the Queen of Thailand to industrialist Simón Patiño, the “King of Tin”. All the world sought out Lelii’s avant garde designs, from royalty to Hollywood set designers to the middle class folks who brought his designs to life. Lelii was devoted to his Monza workers, always making himself available to them and gifting them his chandeliers and lamps. He honored his own origins by insisting that the engineers, technicians and craftsmen work alongside the designers, including such luminaries as Gio Ponti, Achile & Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, Mario Tedeschi, Ettore Sottsass and Nando Vigo. This collaborative spirit is responsible for many of the most innovative lighting designs of the twentieth century, such as the trademark Arredoluce floor switch. Lelii’s personal dedication to detail, whether it be the welding of seams so perfect as to be invisible or magnetic adjustments permitting easy yet accurate angling of light, remained the heart of Arredoluce until his death in 1979. In the years since, Lelii’s regard as one of the foremost designers of modernist lighting has only grown, and his collections, already renowned in his time, have become even more sought-after.

Lelii’s uncommon surname is often distorted into a “li” in place of the double “i”, which is most probably a historical patronymic (the offspring of Lelius).

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July 15, 2020 to August 15, 2020

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