Born on Reichenau Island in Lake Constance, Germany in 1932, Ingo Maurer trained as a graphic designer between 1954 and 1958. In 1960, he moved to the U.S., where he worked as a freelance designer at Kaiser Aluminum and IBM for three years. He returned to Germany and opened Design M in Munich in 1966, a firm specializing exclusively in lighting. His first light design, Bulb, from the same year, was an oversized bulb in chromium-plated metal and hand-blown glass, created for an installation at Herman Miller’s Munich showroom. In 1973, Design M became Ingo Maurer Lighting GmbH. Today, his company continues to work out of the same space, and employs approximately sixty people. In 2005, having outgrown its production facilities, the brand opened a new location for manufacturing and shipping in the outskirts of Munich. The former production hall became the brand’s only European showroom—its second after New York.
Maurer’s fascination with the naked bulb and its inventor, Thomas Edison, has continued throughout his career. His work is also greatly influenced by Pop Art; to that end, some designs, such as 1980’s Bulb Bulb, are purposefully kitschy. In addition to his retail lighting line, Maurer continues to take on commissions for both artistic installations and interior lighting plans.
His work is included in collections worldwide and featured in numerous museum exhibitions, including 2007’s Provoking Magic show at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York. Maurer has been honored with several accolades, including the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres from the French Minister of Culture (1986), the Georg Jensen Prize, Copenhagen (2002), and his appointment as Royal Designer of Industry by the Royal Society of Arts, London (2005).