Achille Castiglioni: Clarity & Wit
"Start from scratch, stick to common sense, know your goals and means." - Achille Castiglioni
In the second half of the 20th Century, modern artistic movements and developments in manufacturing sparked an atmosphere of experimentation. The opportunities for boundary-pushing design were like never before. At the heart of the explosion was designer Achille Castiglioni, globally recognized today as one of the greatest modern masters. Chances are, even if you've never heard of him by name, you're familiar with at least one of his works. His unique viewpoint of combining formal design considerations with free association and a wry sense of humor has resulted in some of the most enduring and iconic products of his time, and design history at large.
With few new architectural projects in 1930s Italy, newly graduated Castiglioni translated his training as an architect into interior and product design. He mastered these smaller-scale projects at a firm established with his brothers Luigi and Pier Giacomo, his most frequent collaborator. Post-WWII, demand for a higher quality of life and rapid industrial progress perfectly positioned Castiglioni for the impression he would leave on design history.
The Taccia table lamp - designed in 1962 - feels perfectly at home in a contemporary setting.
Inspired by everyday things, Castiglioni's theory of design seems incredibly logical. "Design demands observation" was one of his well-known adages, and Achille Castiglioni believed a designer must understand why a new object was needed before beginning to create it. Through this almost anthropological approach, he would draw on familiar forms - a flower, a bicycle seat, a punctuation mark - and bring them into an unexpected context. It's this playfulness, a measured yet lively sense of humor, that elevates Achille Castiglioni designs from technical brilliance to evocative masterpiece.
Perhaps his most recognizable design, completed with his brother Pier Giacomo, is the Arco floor lamp. The design is inspired by street lamps, with a light source falling nearly eight feet from its marble base. It's a form that's recognizable and evocative, broadened in context by the use of industrial materials like stainless steel. This combination of pure and expressive elements is the genius of Castiglioni's creativity. Arco and 13 other Castiglioni designs are now housed in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection in New York City.
Castiglioni's original drawings, and the full form of the iconic Arco floor lamp.
A beloved professor, Castiglioni spread his design philosophy as an educator at top-tier design universities until 1993, just nine years before his death. His courses were incredibly well attended, and it was not uncommon for Castiglioni to deliver lectures for as many as 1300+ students. For generations, young creatives came to learn from their design hero. Beyond his extensive portfolio of superb products and teaching career, Achille Castiglioni further contributed to the design world by helping to establish the Association for Industrial Design, ADI.
The hallmark of the most essential designs is that they are timeless. Today, Achille Castiglioni lighting designs and other products are as popular as they were when first introduced. Explore the master's catalog for FLOS, and be inspired by some of the most brilliant forms in modern design.