Palainco Seriously light minded

Fungo, a luminous hallucination from Murano

  • Share

Massimo Vignelli designed this stunning and elegantly curved, glass-blown mushroom-shaped silhouette for Venini in 1956. It became known as Fungo, Italian for mushroom and turned out to be a timeless design that is highly attractive in all its different sizes and colours.

  • 03_Palainco_Venini_Massimo_Vignelli_Fungo_Table_Lamp This spectacular collection still represents only a fraction of the entire colour range of Vignelli's Fungo (source: Artnet)
  • When Massimo Vignelli (1931-2014) started designing, Venini was already widely recognised as a specialist in the manufacture of glass-blown products like vases and lamps. The company produced the most wonderful innovative shapes and colours, created by Italian artists like Carlo Scarpa and Giò Ponti. Vignelli was at the start of what would turn out to be an impressive career in nearly every field of design, including advertising, identity, packaging, product, industrial, interior and architectural design.

    The cooperation between Venini & Co. and Massimo Vignelli lasted a couple of years and started with this table lamp officially named 4040 Zaffiro, but more widely known as Fungo.

  • 02_Palainco_Venini_Massimo_Vignelli_Fungo_Table_Lamp The size does not interfere with the beauty of the design (source: losAndes Arquitectura).
  • The Fungo lamp was a rather complicated one, as described on the website “It was a very challenging proposition to bring colourful Murano glass into play with light. This lamp was the result of an attempt to eliminate the lampshade by merging base and top, using typical Murano glass.”

    Repertorio, the standard work on Italian design, mentions: “The Fungo lamp of Massimo Vignelli for Venini is one of the first examples of compact objects; it is more a luminous object than a lighting fixture.”

  • Palainco_Venini_Massimo_Vignelli_Fungo_Large_Amber_Table-9115 The design is so powerful that it also works as a pendant (sources: Palainco & Artnet).
  • Massimo Vignelli was pleased with his work for Venini, and expressed on the website “This series of light fixtures designed for Venini combined functional and decorative aspects and provided me with a valuable experience in the craft of glass making.”

  • 07_Palainco_Venini_Massimo_Vignelli_Fungo_Table_Lamp_Pendant_Quote_If_you_can_design_one_thing,_you_can_design_everything_Portrait Massimo Vignelli with the programme, designed by Michael Bierut of Pentagram, for the Architectural League President’s Medal event, which he and Lella, were awarded in 2011 (source: Pentagram).

    Massimo Vignelli decided at the age of 14 that he wanted to be an architect, and at 16 he began working as an architectural draftsman. Lella Valle, who would later become his wife, was born in Udine into a family of well-known architects. They met in Venice, where they both attended the Università di Architettura.

    Massimo and Lella Vignelli moved to New York in 1966, where they co-founded a branch of Unimark International. A new company specialised in developing distinctive corporate identities, it quickly became one of the largest design firms in the world. In 1971 Massimo and Lella Vignelli founded their own company: Vignelli Associates, through which they realised their mission “Better design for a better world.”

  • 06_Palainco_Venini_Massimo_Vignelli_Fungo_Table_Lamp_Pendant_Quote_If_you_can_design_one_thing,_you_can_design_everything

    The Vignellis have received rewards too numerous to list: Massimo has won virtually every graphic design award in the world and Lella has won major awards for interiors. In 2003, they received the National Design Lifetime Achievement award. This proves how right he was in coining one of our favourite quotes: “If you can design one thing, you can design everything”!

  • If you would like to be the first to read articles on designers and special designs, please subscribe to our newsletter.

    • Literature: & 'Repertorio del Design Italiano 1950-2000 per L'Arredamento Domestico' di Giuliana Gramigna. Umberto Allemandi.

    Unless otherwise stated, all material is sourced and/or generated internally. All rights reserved.

    • Text: Palainco, Koos Logger & Ingrid Stadler.
    • Image sources:, losAndes Arquitectura, Michael Bierut, Artnet, Pentagram & the Palainco archive.

    The article and its contents may not be copied or reproduced in any part or form without the prior written permission of the copyright holders.

error: This content is protected