Richard Sapper was born in 1932. After pursuing courses in philosophy, anatomy, and engineering, he graduated with a business degree from the University of Munich.
He began his design career in the styling department of Daimler Benz in Stuttgart, before transferring to Milan, where he worked first for the architect Giò Ponti, and then in the design division of La Rinascente. In 1959, he also started to work independently, creating radios for Telefunken and clocks for Lorenz. In the early 60s, Sapper began to collaborate with the Italian architect Marco Zanuso, a partnership that would last for many years. Together, they acted as design consultants for Brionvega, an Italian electronics company, developing a series of televisions and radios. During the 1970s, Sapper was engaged as a consultant on the development of experimental automobiles for FIAT, and on pneumatic structures for Pirelli, producing the concept for a car with a flexible skin designed to reduce impact in case of collisions. Since 1980, Sapper has acted as chief industrial design consultant for IBM, later also adding Lenovo, supervising the design of the companies’ personal computers worldwide.
Sapper’s main interest in his design work has centered on technically complex problems. He has developed and designed a wide variety of products, ranging from ships and cars, to computers and electronics, furniture and kitchen appliances. His clients include Alessi, Artemide, B&B Italia, Brionvega, FIAT, Heuer, Kartell, Knoll, IBM, Lenovo, Lorenz Milano, Magis, Molteni, Pirelli and many others.
Throughout his career, Sapper has remained keenly involved in academia, teaching and lecturing at universities all over the world.
Richard Sapper has received numerous awards for his products, and his designs are represented in the permanent collections of many museums around the world.