Elio Martinelli was born on November 19, 1922, the only son of Pliny and his wife Emilia, one of the best-known milliners in the city of Lucca, no doubt the source of his artistic vein. Taking over the family business after the premature loss of his father, Elio Martinelli realized how his interests were different and more projected towards creativity. He began a collaboration with a Lucca company, handling interior design for public places. Dissatisfied with the type of lighting fixtures available at the time, he began to design and produce his own lamps to be included in his projects. Thus was born Martinelli Luce, in a basement located in Piazza Bernardini in Lucca. Elio called it the Laboratory and many of his ideas were developed here.
Elio married Anna in 1949, his lifelong companion and inspiring muse. Together they travelled around Italy and later Europe, participating in the most important trade fairs of the time, but it is with the first edition of the Eurodomus in 1966 and meeting Giò Ponti that Elio Martinelli and his company acquired international prominence.
Elio Martinelli was an significant contributor to Italian design Belle Epoque of the 1960's and 1970's, and his designs and those of designers he championed remain a testament to that.