Richard Sapper Biography

Richard Sapper Radio TS502
Richard Sapper Radio TS502
Classic Designs » Designers » Richard Sapper Biography

Richard Sapper Munich 1932 – Milan 2015

From 1952 to 1956 Richard Sapper read philosophy, anatomy, graphic art and mechanical engineering and graduated in industrial management at the University of Munich.

After his studies he joined Daimler-Benz’s design division. In 1958 he moved to Italy where he first worked for Gio Ponti and later for department store chain “La Rinascente”. In the following year he helped Mario Spagnol revise the Italian translation of Paul Klees’s diaries and began his collaboration with Marco Zanuso.

Sandwich Clock

From 1960 to 1970 Richard Sapper designed the “Algol 11” television set along with Marco Zanuso and others and the “Grillo” folding telephone. From 1970 to 1976 he worked at Fiat as an experimental car design consultant and at Pirelli in the pneumatic structure field.

In 1980 he began his activity as a consultant at IBM responsible for worldwide product design and in 1985 he commenced his teaching career in a summer course at the Yale University in Brissago. A year later he was appointed professor of industrial design at the art academy of Stuttgart.

He has since 1988 been an honorary member of the London-based Royal Society of Arts. Sapper’s is mainly interested in the development of technically complex appliances.

His products have among other things won him the Italian Compasso d’Oro award seven times. Over a dozen of his objects are exhibited in the permanent collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art. Richard Sapper lived and worked in Milan prior to his death in 2015.


Gabriele Lueg: Richard Sapper – Design, Museum für Angewandte Kunst Köln, Cologne 1993.

Written by Simon
I am a published writer, journalist and photo-journalist. I have an MA in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales and my journalism has been published in a number of UK national newspapers including 'the Observer'. I have life long interest in creative design, art and function and this website is an exploration of that in all its forms and guises.