The designer couple Rosmarie (b. 1927) and Rico Baltensweiler (1920–1987) began developing and producing functional and aesthetically pleasing lamps in 1951. With their playful plastic lamp Guggerli, they brought a touch of colorful space-age design to the avant-garde Swiss living room.
In the fifteen years following the design of their Type 600 floor lamp, Rosmarie (b. 1927) and Rico (1920–1987) Baltensweiler created an entire family of visually delicate balanced-arm lamps “in the field of tension between utility and manufacturability.” Their design work was characterized as much by its high level of machine-assisted handcraftsmanship as it was by its quality. The Baltensweilers made their own tools and even built the roof of their workshop themselves. The use of high-grade semifinished components allowed for the efficient manufacture of medium-sized series. Once established, these components reappeared time and again in modified form, defining the products’ identity. Even before they were inspired by advances in lightbulbs to start experimenting in the early seventies with new kinds of lamps for the workplace, in 1966 the studio released the astonishingly different Guggerli series. The lamps consisted of white or colored standing plastic tubes with round cutouts and freely movable glass spheres. The spheres, which could be pointed in any direction, could be fitted with spotlights or standard bulbs. The series encompassed a selection of models ranging from a small bedside lamp with just one sphere to a tall floor lamp with room for up to eight bulbs. The colorful, sculptural Guggerli embodied the spirit of pop culture just as vividly as the earlier Type 600 had epitomized nomadic living. No wonder, then, that is was soon being sold on New York’s famous Madison Avenue. (Arthur Rüegg)