Alessandro Sarfatti

Founder of Astep

April 2016
Having grown up in a design-driven environment, Alessandro Sarfatti began working at Luceplan (founded by his parents in 1978) immediately after studies. He undertook various roles before becoming CEO in 2005. In 2013, however, he left the company and has now launched a new venture, a lighting design brand. “Astep’s mission concerns the capacity to capture the best of what has been done in the past and turn it into the essence of a new evolution. This is a company that looks toward the future yet also continues on the path devised by two great entrepreneurs: my father, Riccardo Sarfatti, and his father, Gino. On starting-up in 2014, the idea was to make accessible the latest digital technologies, to be able to offer something truly innovative. I was joined from the beginning by Nicholas Zambetti.”
Zambetti was part of the dream team that developed Arduino in Ivrea (Italy) in 2005 and then worked for IDEO and Apple. “We met at CIID (Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design). He fell in love with the project, dropped out of Silicon Valley, and joined me. We are proud of the fact that Astep products will be produced responsibly in Italy. When it comes to limited, high-quality productions, the Italians are unbeatable. My network of suppliers is a great asset to build on. Charles Eames said that the quality of relationships is the key to quality per se.” Sarfatti further clarifies the brand’s mission and positioning: “A project with such a strong cultural commitment, while wanting to remain accessible, will naturally reach architects and interior designers. The distribution will be both offline and online, and will start from the northern European countries.” Our first piece, Candela, has been designed by Francisco Gomez Paz, with whom Sarfatti has collaborated and shared design visions for the past 10 years.
Typologically, Candela is like an oil lamp, but instead of oil it burns environmentally-friendly bioethanol (derived from biomass). The heat of the flame is turned into electricity for LEDs and for recharging batteries, thanks to an energy harvesting process. “Francisco and I exchanged and shared many thoughts. Many moments. Other projects will come from works done by grandfather and architect Vittoriano Viganò, who, besides having worked with my grandfather at Arteluce, also became a family close friend.” Astep’s first release can be seen at the exhibition at Palazzo Litta organised by DAMN° & Mosca Partners as part of Fuorisalone during the Milan Fair. The installation is curated by Studio Cavalchini and Francesca Molteni.