Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Design Hero - Achille Castiglioni

I can remember when I was 18, I was sat at work, my first job in a real design studio. It was my lunch break and I was flicking through a magazine which had a feature on design icons. I flipped the page and saw this image of Achille Castiglioni. A big smile came to face. When I started to research him and his work I always felt a sense of fun, both in his designs and his personality.

Mezzandro Stool for Zanotta 1957. Image c/o Studio Museum Achille Castiglioni

A trained architect, he first began working with his 2 brothers in the 1940's, exploring urban planning and industrial design. I can imagine working alongside your siblings (all with lyrical Italian tongues!) could be frustrating, but I'm sure this must be where his working philosophy took hold. Debating and exploring new ideas must have resulted in lots of good humored banter! One of my favorite Castiglioni quotations resonates strongly with me, and I try to abide by his words in my own work:

“There has to be irony, both in design and in the objects. I see around me a professional disease of taking everything too seriously. One of my secrets is to joke all the time.”

The Sprugen Blau lamp, in collaboration with his brother Pier Giacomo, was his first design for the renowned lighting firm Flos in 1961. This piece today looks fresh and modern, but just think at the time how futuristic and daring it would have seemed. Pushing boundaries and exploring possibilities resonates through all Achille Castiglioni's products and, of course, a sense of fun.

Sprugen Blau Pendant & Arco Floor Lamp both Flos

Castiglioni worked throughout his life, commissioned by the leading design firms across the globe, including Zanotta, Alessi, Kartell, Poltrona Frau and many more. He gained many awards for his design achievements, producing 100's of designs in his lifetime, many of which are still manufactured today.

Studio Musem Achille Castiglioni

Castligioni passed away in Milan on December 2, 2002. Today his studio serves as a museum to his life's work and teachings. Arranged guided tours are available by his wife, Irma and daughter, Giovanna who is also curating something of a travelling Castiglioni studio, "At Castiglioni's Home - A Place For Everything & Everything In It's Place". Perhaps somewhat in effort to raise the funds it needs to stay open, a reason therefore (if you need one) to take time to visit Studio Museum Achille Castiglioni when you are next in Milan.

There is much more information on the Achille Castiglioni website with regards to his biography of work, projects and publications.

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