Elio Martinelli was born in Lucca, Italy in 1921. After having attended the industrial school, he gets a diploma at the Institute of Fine Arts in Florence as a set designer and over the years he contributes with his creativity to the development of his father Plinio’s activity in the lighting sector. After several years and several experiences in the set designing field, he starts his professional activity in the studio located in downtown Lucca.
At the beginning he focuses on interior design and on fitting out for shops, restaurants, hotels and pubs. The need to finish his projects induces him to design and to carry out on his own the lighting systems. In the 50s he starts the production and the first catalogue. During these years Elio Martinelli brings out his simple and strict inspiration boosting strongly the company that becomes the reference point for the Italian design in the lighting field.
Simplicity, geometry and nature with its numerous forms have always been Elio Martinelli’s inspiration. It is a growing of insights using new materials, such as methacrylate, tested on various models from the very beginning of the production and design activities. It is a search for new ideas, new technologies and production systems taking into account the constant evolution of light sources.
It is to be pointed out the introduction of some models of the Martinelli Luce collection in important museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musée des Art Décoratifs in Montreal and the Museum of Art in Philadelphia. Other fixtures were and are still proposed in several publications and exhibited during sector shows.
During the latest years, with the introduction of new light sources, Elio Martinelli guides design also towards a more technical sector: it results in lighting systems and fixtures of big dimensions, of different typologies and also on request, studied for different places and for new needs.
Elio Martinelli is tireless, he goes to the company everyday till his death in 2004; but, still today, after forty years, some lamps he designed, such as Cobra, keep on communicating to us that original design impulse, despite the so different context.