The truth of light

The philosophy of the light designer from Piacenza with three concrete applications

The lightning in the dining room of Le Calandre in

The lightning in the dining room of Le Calandre in Rubano (Padua), designed by Davide Groppi. Light as an ingredient in the dish, a creed of the light designer from Piacenza, is concretely applied even at Osteria Francescana in Modena and at Antica Osteria del Teatro in Piacenza. We illustrate this in the photo-gallery below


Le Calandre, Rubano (Padova)
It’s one of our first high cuisine projects. Massimo and Raffaele Alajmo agreed right from the start with the idea of using light in the dish. We wanted an object that would characterise them, so we created the Ovo lamp, because eggs, according to the chef from Padua, are an essential ingredient in contemporary cuisine. There’s one Ovo projecting a direct light on the plate, and one Ovo that re-interprets the old suspension lamps used in inns. Light, in this case, contributes in creating a greater intimacy among the guests
Osteria Francescana, Modena
In the project with which Massimo Bottura revolutionised his restaurant, last summer, he wanted to obtain a flexible lighting system for the two rooms in his restaurant. Given the wide spaces between one table and the other, we decided to use the Sampei lamp: if we move the tables, the light will follow them. They are like grass, thin and very tall fishing rods - recalling a vision of Japan – on top of which a spotlight was placed, generating a particular emotional tension. We have greatly worked at valorising the corridor that leads to the two rooms: each artwork is illuminated with Nulla, holes in the ceiling from which very powerful beams of light come out
Antica Osteria del Teatro, Piacenza
I greatly enjoyed this work. Together with chef Filippo Chiappini Dattilo we decided to use one of our historical pendant lights, namely Miss, made of thin led tubes that illuminate the table and nothing else. The table itself becomes a mirroring element while everything else is in semi-darkness. It’s surprising how you can illuminate a whole restaurant with 5 watts. The project has changed the perception of the chef’s cuisine too: each table is a small theatre with food at the centre of the stage and the faces of the guests are illuminated from the bottom to the top. Caravaggio-style
Davide Groppi, lecturer at the first edition of Identità di Sala, a format of Identità Milano 2013

My history begins in 1988, with a tiny workshop in the historic centre of Piacenza, inventing and producing lamps. Right from the start, I used my name as my brand because at the time it was the easiest thing to do. The essential idea behind my work was to get closer to light in the sense of getting closer to the truth; I wanted to research light, thus chasing beauty. The ingredients used in my projects have always been simplicity, lightness, invention and emotion.

When I work I’m aware that making lamps is not an exact science, but at the same time I feel it is necessary to look for a method. It is the discovery of intuition, of the strength of introspection. In the past three years I’ve had the opportunity to illuminate a few restaurants (see the 3 examples in the photo-gallery below). All of these were extraordinary experiences that allowed me to develop some ideas with regards to the light to be used in restaurants.

Supper at Emmaus, Caravaggio (1601)

Supper at Emmaus, Caravaggio (1601)

While looking at Caravaggio’s painting “Supper at Emmaus” I realised which was the light I had to contemplate. First of all, I like to think of restaurants as places in which it is possible to live multisensory experiences, not only linked to wine and food. I like to think that the cooking starts in the dining room, and to consider tables as small theatres in which plays are put on stage. This is why light, as well as sound, is important. In this sense, Caravaggio’s sense of light is marvellous. It looks like his characters stand out from the semi-darkness.

The light in the dish becomes a paradigm to be used in order to valorise food but also the faces of the guests. It’s the most beautiful light in the world, the one which makes everything more real and profound. It is the light that makes each guest feel like the only guest in the restaurant. This light transforms a table into a place for an encounter, for love. It’s an essential ingredient for cuisine.