Achille Castiglioni is the designer that draws around himself a world of curiosity
It takes a certain kind of sensibility to unearth the exceptionality of ordinary objects, and it takes genius to turn ordinary shapes into aesthetically noteworthy functional design projects. Or maybe, just Achille Castiglioni’s curiosity.
Achille Castiglioni is part of that generation of creatives that crucially contributed to the Italian miracle after World War II, able to attract investors on made in Italy design.
In more than 4 decades, Castiglioni contributed to more than 800 creations between set-ups, architectural projects and industrial design, a whole world of creativity that is now part of the design history and of collective imagination.
Born in Milan in 1918, Achille soon started testing the industrial production of design along with his brothers Livio and Pier Giacomo: rigorous and unperturbed the first, creative and experimenter the latter, the trio will constitute an exceptional artistic symbiosis.
After graduating in architecture in 1944, Achille Castiglioni started experimenting with techniques and new materials for an integral design process.
The inspiration comes from common objects found during his travels, at department stores or in open-air markets, souvenirs that Achille Castiglioni used to keep in a drawer in his studio, sometimes holding them in hands with a curious eye, before going back to drawing.
Mezzadro Stool – 1957, Zanotta
In Achille Castiglioni’s capable hands, no object was too insignificant to be made functional and beautiful, not even a tractor seat: made of four pieces, the Mezzadro stool probably represents the best example of Achille Castiglioni’s desire to use part of an already existing object, giving it a new life, changing the way it is employed but confirming its shape.
Arco Lamp – 1962, Flos
Achille Castiglioni’s most iconic piece is the result of his commitment to design practical pieces by observing ordinary life: inspired by a street lamp, Arco was designed along with his brother Pier Giacomo for the newborn company Flos in response to the need to project light from above a space without being bound to the ceiling, as the dramatic arch is capable to enlighten hard-to-reach spots without drilling holes in the wall.
Interested to know more about one of the most iconic lighting design brands, don’t miss Brand Story – Flos.
Snoopy Lamp – 1967, Flos
From the very beginning Achille Castiglioni’s industrial designs garnered so much respect that some of them were considered works of art, making their way to design collections across the globe, as was the case for the Snoopy lamp, displayed at the NY MoMA, unmistakably inspired by Charlie Brown’s white beagle.
The Switch – 1968, VLM
An unmistakable shape for an unmistakable sound – that ‘click’ to be heard in almost every home.
Not only an incredibly cheap and common piece of design, but also a simple and brilliant invention that revolutionized the world of lighting: the VLM Switch, the small amazing object that allows a person to turn the light on in the dark following the cable with the hand, has been produced more than 25 million times.
Parentesi Lamp 1971 Flos
Achille Castiglioni was one of the founders of ADI, in 1956, and won himself the Compasso D’Oro 9 times, throughout his career.
One of the designs awarded is the Parentesi, a lamp that moves vertically sliding on a ceiling-to-floor cable, providing direct light where needed.
Curious to learn the story of other designers who have influenced the world of lighting? Don’t miss Design Icon – Ingo Maurer.