Program Oct – Dec 2021
Etienne Fermiger: Lighting for Monix
French designer Etienne Fermigier had an impressive and prolific career before his untimely death in 1973 at 41. He was not interested in one-off pieces or private commissions for individual clients and was remarkable in his commitment to functional design manufactured industrially so as to be made available to the greater public. He designed many models for industry and worked with the most important furniture companies of his time.
In France, he was the designer who produced the most lighting over the period of 1960–1972. We have counted no less than 70 models, including floor lamps, table and desk lamps, wall and ceiling lights.
He worked for Disderot and Verre Lumière, at that time in the forefront of contemporary lighting in France. These companies distributed the creations of many young designers, who were ardent supporters of modernity. They produced lamps that were often minimalist in design, and always faultless in efficiency and functionality. The elegance of these objects attracted the public through a combination of materials used, discrete assembly systems of perfect technicality, and a refined sense of proportion.
In the 1960s, Etienne Fermigier met the Lokiec brothers who ran the eponymous family lighting company. The aging company had seen its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s thanks to a patented model of desk lamps in 1922 and the invention of an articulation that was innovative for the time. Seeking a fresh perspective, the company was renamed Monix in the 1950s and attempted to modernize the company by offering a series destined for interiors, but it hadn’t succeeded in standing out from its competitors in the production of original models.
This decisive meeting between Fermigier and the Lokiec brothers became the fruitful association Monix needed, which led to the production of some 30 models for lamps and pieces of furniture (from 1969 until Fermigier’s death in 1973).
Fermigier also held the position of artistic director for the company and his wife, Franette Guérin, designed a new logo for Monix, as well as all its visual identity, including sales catalogues, exhibition invitations, promotional posters, etc.
Fermigier’s lights stood out in their simple design, which went straight to the essential, with no decorative artifice to disrupt the object’s functionality. Each of his models was concerned with how best to light a desk, a dining table, a living room. The goal was then to manage production with a brief that was continuously being refined in order to make high quality, low-cost lighting, and finally, to launch a complete series that aesthetically stood apart from the competition.
These lights were built to relatively simple technical principles applying the same techniques for nearly all models, and primarily made of aluminum and chrome-plated or powder-coated metal, the designer’s preferred materials. A lamp by Etienne Fermigier is the technical translation of an intelligent concept into its optimal usability. His work fits perfectly with the modernity of his time, while remaining timeless. Today, his lights maintain their contemporary feel.