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Achille Castiglioni wearing glasses

Achille Castiglioni

Italian furniture and lighting designer


“Design starting from what you don’t have to do, to find all you need to do.”

Achille Castiglioni

Achille Castiglioni (born February 16, 1918, Milan–died December 2, 2002, Milan) was an Italian designer of furniture, lighting, radiograms, and other objects. Castiglioni first studied the classics and then art at the Liceo Classico Giuseppe Parini and at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan. In 1937, he enrolled in the Faculty of Architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, graduating in 1944. Immediately after graduating, Achille Castiglioni began intense research of shapes and new techniques and materials aimed at developing an integral design process.

Achille Castiglioni initially worked with his brothers, Livio and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni. Livio quit in 1952, but Achille and Pier Giacomo continued to work together until 1968, when Pier Giacomo died. read more

Brionvega radio RR126 by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni
Brionvega radio RR126 by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni (1965)

In 1940, Achille Castiglioni and his brother Livio participated in the VII Triennale di Milano (Milan Triennial), titled Exhibition of the Radio, and collaborated with the Phonola Company in important research and the study of broadcasting devices. This study proved fruitful as Achille and Pier Giacomo would later design radio and sound appliances with innovative designs, such as the radio phonograph RR 126 (1966) and record player RR 128 for Brionvega (1966).

Achille Castiglioni Furniture and Designs

From 1947 to 1957, Achille Castiglioni created a large number of exhibition designs, something that he particularly enjoyed as this more fluid flow of projects allowed him greater creative freedom than he experienced with the architectural projects. During this period, Achille and Pier Giacomo participated in the Italian Exhibition of Furniture (RIMA), with curved-plywood furniture, and he achieved important product designs, such as the Tubino (1949) and Luminator (1955) lamps, and the Spalter vacuum cleaner (1956).

Gatto table lamp by Achille Castiglioni
Gatto table lamp by Achille Castiglioni (1960)

Achille and Pier Giacomo’s industrial designs were smart and playful, and most of the works they did together are not attributable exclusively to either one of them. Among these works are the light designs they did for FLOS, such as: Taraxacum ceiling lamp and Gatto table lamp (1960) with the experimental polyamide material that they name “coccon”, Beehive -or Splügen Braü lamp (1961), Toio –or Toy lamp (1962),  Arco lamp (1962), Taccia lamp (1962), and Snoopy lamp (1967). But they also designed playful furnishings products during this time; some examples are: Sello stool for Zanotta (1957), Sgabello per Telefono, a telephone stool in the shape of a bicycle seat, and the Mezzardo, or sharecropper’s stool, for Zanotta (1957); the RR 226 stereo system (1965); and the Sanluca chair for Gavina (1961).

Achille Castiglioni’s Late Solo Design Career and Awards

After the death of Pier Giacomo, Achille Castiglioni continued as a solo designer and urban planner. In 1969, he started to teach architecture and design at the Politecnico di Torino, and from 1980 onwards, he taught at the Politectinico di Milano.

Achille Castiglioni won the Compasso DOro, Italy’s top prize for industrial design, nine times. In 1997, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City held a comprehensive exhibition of his work.

For more information on Achille Castiglioni, visit Fondazione Achille Castiglioni.

Last updated: March 15, 2020

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bibliography


Sergio Polano

Achille Castiglioni. 1918-2002

Mondadori Electa

Milan, Italy (2006)

 

Sergio Polano

Achille Castiglioni: Opera Completa

Electa

Milan, Italy (2001)

 

Matteo Guarnaccia

Achille Castiglioni

Exizioni Corraini

Mantua, Italy (2001)

 

Achille Castiglioni & Franco Sbarro

Esperienze di architettura: generazioni a confronto (I quaderni dell”Accademia di architettura Mendrisio)

Skira

Milan, Italy (1996)

 

Paolo Ferrari

Achille Castiglioni

Electra International

Milan, Italy (1985)

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