Distant Origin

Mariano Fortuny (1871-1949) was one of the great inventors and fashion designers of Venice's Silver Age. Over the course of his career he excelled in architecture, engineering, sculpture, fashion design, stage design, directing, painting, photography and optics. Coupled with his knowledge of chemistry and physics these skills led him to create and patent a variety of inventions, from textile printing machines, to boat propellers and the electric dimmer switch. Fortuny first put the dimmer switch to use during his collaboration with Gabriele D'Annunzio on D'Annunzio's production of Ricardo Zandonai's opera Francesca da Rimini. Throughout his life Fortuny continued to work productively and to great acclaim on light engineering. He used reflecting techniques and intricate scrims to create purposeful illumination for rooms and stages. Fortuny was driven by the idea that the more a person could control the aesthetics of their surroundings, the more they could direct what happened inside of them.