The concept behind the minimal machines has guided and contiunues to guide much of Michele De Lucchi’s work. It is not a concept of a specific technique, but a means of addressing a project in mechanical terms. The best know project in this sense is the Tolomeo lamp produced by Artemide. De Lucchi invented a mechanism and he presented its sketch to Ernesto Gismondi, whose technicians tried, without success, for quite some time to make it work. Michele had already given up on it when he received a call from Gismondi “Come here immediately: your machine works!” He was excited and Michele became increasingly passionate about projects including a motion which leads to a functional and emotional performance. A perfect example of a minimal machine is a pair of scissors, which has a simple movement and performs a specific function. In this way a series of lamps were designed for Produzione Privata all with unusual mechanisms, which incorporated form, function and aesthetics. They were designed to graduate and to concentrate light, to control light not with electronic systems but with banal mechanical systems.
The seventh of this series of lamps is simply called Macchina Minima n.7 and it is a lamp, which is still produced in limited numbers. It is a lamp that moves up and down, mounted on a counterbalanced arm, which is fixed to a turning, disc which in turn is mounted onto a ball bearing. The two movements give the lamp a great deal of mobility and the possibility of orienting it in any position. It is a lamp for the centre of the table, which is never in the centre of the table. It is undisciplined, but beautiful.
Michele designed many Macchina Minima products in those years including the table Tecnico for Cappellini International (1987) which can be raised or lowered by means of a simple mechanism with the tabletop remaining horizontal. The lamp Sigira for ClassiCon (1991) and the candleholders from the metal laboratory can be considered minimal machines, where the functional elements determine both form and beauty.
The Trefili lamp originated from the small action required refolding it in a light parcel to give as a present. The aim in this case was not that of designing a lamp with movement, but to give attention to the part of a lamp, which is never designed: the wire. It was not easy to find a manufacturer willing to thread the three wires by hand. The Trefili recalls a little the projects of Bruno Munari who was not interested in the aesthetic quality but in a gentle idea. As with the slight irony in this case of the electrical wires plaited like the hair of a child.