Danish lighting designer Mads Caprani’s distinctive and disruptive vision of what a lamp could look like has echoed through the ages. Although he did not initially set out to become a designer, Caprani’s curiosity, ambition, natural talent, and determination to seize any opportunities that came his way, ensured that he was destined to make a permanent mark on the story of 20th-century design.
From a small Danish company, Mads turned Caprani Light into a global name, setting up branches across Europe and even in Chicago and Wisconsin in the US. Of all Caprani Light’s products, it was the Timberline Floor Lamp that fulfilled Mads’ ambition and secured his legacy. A unique, sinuous, and striking design somehow both quintessentially 1970s and utterly timeless in its aesthetic, the Timberline Floor Lamp was an instant best-seller, becoming known around the world simply as ‘the Caprani Lamp’.
SHADOWS OF WAR
Born in Copenhagen in 1942, Micheli Alessio – aka ‘Mads’– Caprani spent his early childhood in the shadow of war. His father, Alessio Micheli, fought actively in the Resistance, and consequently the family were forced underground, moving from town to town in order to escape detection by the Nazis.
Over the course of World War Two, the Caprani family traveled all over Denmark, spending time in both the north and south of the country, but never settling down for long.
DEVOTED TO MUSIC
Despite the uncertainty and danger that characterized these early years, the young Caprani threw himself into games and sport, particularly enjoying swimming, football, table tennis and tennis. After the war, when the family moved to a large home in affluent Frederiksberg, music became a passion.
Caprani’s father played the piano, and Mads himself discovered a talent for the trumpet. Ever ambitious, always throwing himself wholeheartedly into everything he turned his attention to, Caprani spearheaded the formation of a jazz orchestra at his school.
THE CAPRANI LEGACY
Caprani died in 2014, having realized his dream and built one of the world’s biggest lighting brands. But that is not the end of his story. In the 21st century, Caprani’s lighting was discovered by a new generation and, although Caprani Light is no longer in operation, interest in Caprani lights has never been higher. GUBI is delighted to collaborate with Mads Caprani’s family to bring his iconic lamp back, to light up the lives – and homes – of design fans worldwide.
SURROUNDED BY CLASSICS
Caprani's journey into design began after he had left school and begun training as an electrician at the Technical College of Copenhagen, and later, as an electrical engineer.
His technical proficiency saw him hired by the renowned Danish lighting manufacturer Louis Poulsen, where he worked with some of the leading figures in mid-century Danish design, including Arne Jacobsen, Poul Henningsen and Verner Panton. Exposure to such visionaries awakened Caprani’s own interest in design, and thus laid the foundations of what was to become a major global lighting brand.
MAKING A MARK ON THE INTERNATIONAL SCENE
In 1967, Alessio Micheli Caprani acquired the lamp factory Rotaflex in 1967. Mads Caprani joined the firm 10 years later, determined to make a mark on the international lighting scene, and began producing his own pleated lampshades, which were highly unusual for the time and soon became a hit with his clients.
In 1979, Mads Caprani took over the company from his father and changed its name to Caprani Light, devoting himself to designing entire lamps, at first focusing on wood, then expanding his practice to explore other natural materials such as metal and stone.
Caprani secured the attention of the international design press, including a notable feature in the American magazine ‘Design’. At The Chicago Athenaeum’s exhibition ‘Denmark through Design’ in 1996, his work was featured alongside what he called ‘the big ones’ – game-changing Danish designs in everything from kitchenware to transport and medicine.