Achille Castiglioni


One of the most important industrial designers of the 20th century, Achille Castiglioni (1918-2002) produced more than 150 products during his career and forged enduring relationships with Italian manufacturers such as Flos in lighting, Zanotta in furniture and Alessi in home products. Design is one of the highest expressions of twentieth-century creativity and Achille Castiglioni is one of its greatest masters. His objects stand as clear examples of rigorous method, technical skill, exuberant talent and wit, combined to achieve a beauty that is fulfilling on both a rational and an emotional level. His work exemplifies the ideal of good design. A first museum retrospective of his work in the United States was a celebration, not only of the designer, but of the entire discipline in which he exceled. Castiglioni was born in 1918 and studied architecture at the Polytechnic in Milan. Just after World War II, he joined the studio run by his two older brothers Livio and Pier Giacomo, also architects. When Livio left the firm in 1952, Achille and Pier Giacomo collaborated until the latter's premature death in 1968. During the course of his long career, Castiglioni designed dozens of objects, as well as temporary architecture for numerous art exhibitions, trade fairs and showrooms. This exhibition presented a selection of these objects, as well as three reconstructed rooms from 1957, 1965, and 1984 that further demonstrate his design philosophy, based on observation and free association. Castiglioni viewed the world as a wonderful catalogue of objects that can provide a designer with ideas and guidance, and his own work was often inspired by everyday things. The designer's personal collection of found objects, gathered over a lifetime of curiosity, consisted of objects with lives of their own. Independent of any designer's name, these objects became the means through which he pursued and recognized good design--a lens through which his work can best be understood. With his functional and purist yet playful objects, Castiglioni has shown us that form and function, while certainly the main ingredients for successful design, cannot be a designer's only concerns. He has contributed invaluably to updating modernist design.

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He has contributed invaluably to updating modernist design.