Gismondi was born in Sanremo, in coastal northwestern Italy, on December 25, 1931. After receiving a degree in Aeronautical Engineering at Milan Polytechnic in 1957, Gismondi went on to receive a degree in Missile Engineering at the Professional School of Engineering in Rome in 1959. Soon after, he co-founded Artemide (then Studio Artemide S.a.s.) with fellow designer Sergio Mazza in 1960.
As the company grew and expanded internationally, Artemide became Artemide Group as it blossomed to include 24 subsidiaries, acquiring Italian design brand Danese in 2014 (a frequent collaborator with the late Enzo Mari, who also died last year). Throughout his 60-year tenure, the company said, Gismondi was crucial in advancing both sustainability in their products and the quality of Italian design.
Ci ha lasciato Ernesto Gismondi, grande innovatore e amico.Ha illuminato con Artemide il mondo,usato x primo la plastica x fare mobili,regatato a testa alta nei mari di politica e imprenditoria, aperto nuovi orizzonti nel https://t.co/oG8D1ElbaI suo genio antiretorico mi mancherà pic.twitter.com/GAZDlTEjLS
— stefano boeri (@StefanoBoeri) January 1, 2021
Gismondi and Artemide’s contributions to design and lighting history can’t be overstated, as he and the company brought both high-minded industrial design as well as the Memphis movement both into homes as well as museums. From simple desk lamps, to colorful fluted glass chandeliers, to outdoor lights, the group’s reach continues to expand. In recent years, Artemide has also collaborated on custom lighting with everyone from Neri&Hu to Elemental to BIG.
Gismondi served as the vice president of the ADI, Italy’s Association of Industrial Design, and was awarded the Cavaliere del Lavoro (Order of Merit for Labour) by President Giorgio Napolitano in 2008. In 2018, he was awarded the Compasso D’Oro for Lifetime Achievement, an Italian industry recognition; the jury had the following to say about Gismondi’s long, multifaceted career:
“Aerospace engineer, university lecturer and entrepreneur, in short: man of multifaceted talent. Founder of Artemide, he immediately uses design processes as a distinctive factor and in this long process encourages and enhances collaborations with the world of national and international design. A coherent example of how design can be a concrete strategic lever for cultural and economic growth, it has always worked so that Italian design can be a virtuous example at an international level.”