Achille Castiglioni (Milan, 1918-2002) was a renowned Italian industrial designer. He was often inspired by everyday things and made use of ordinary materials. He preferred to use a minimal amount of materials to create forms with maximal effect.
Achille Castiglioni studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano University and set up a design office in 1944 with his brothers, Livio Castiglioni and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni.
In 1956, Castiglioni founded the Associazione per il Disegno Industriale (Association for Industrial Design, ADI).
Castiglioni taught for many years, first at the Politecnico di Torino.
In 1969 and later he led a class in Industrial Design at the faculty of Architecture at Politecnico di Milano, teaching several thousand students.
Castiglioni has exhibited his designs at every Milan Triennial since 1947 and has received seven Compasso d'Oro awards. Most of Castilglioni's products are design classics and are still in production under licence.
The Museum of Modern Art has some of his most important designs in its permanent collection.
The professional partnership by Achille Castiglioni, Livio Castiglioni and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni has been called the "Castiglioni brothers", which Livio left in 1952.
This group has become one of the most witty, elegant and innovative partnerships in modern design.
The brothers worked from the viewpoint that design must restructure an object's function, form and production process, and applied this maxim to every work that they produced. Castiglioni described this process with these words: "Start from scratch. Stick to common sense. Know your goals and means".
In the 1950s the Castiglioni brothers publicly cemented their commitment to redesigning objects, with their tractor seat stool, Mezzadro and their Sella chair made of a bicycle seat. Castiglioni said of his design for the Sella, "When I use a pay phone, I like to move around, but I also would like to sit, but not completely."
These designs drew upon the ready made school of art, in which everyday objects are repurposed for the showroom floor.
The chairs also embrace Castiglioni's theory of a Principal Design Component, or PDC, which the designer has found and is building upon within his design. Castiglioni is best known for his lamps, principally for Flos.
During the fifties and sixties the Castiglioni brothers produced a remarkable number of popular designs.
Their "Spalter" vacuum cleaner (1956), manufactured by Rem, was made of bright red plastic and was meant to be slung across the user's back with a leather strap, like a bag. Their lamps, the minimalist "Luminator"(1955) and "Bulb" (1957), employed exposed bulbs. In 1957 they held a show entitled, "Forme e Colori nella Casa d'Oggi" (Shapes and Colours in Today's Home) at Villa Olmo in Como, to exhibit their series of ready made designs.
In 1962 the brothers introduced "Arco", a floor lamp with a long, curved arm extending eight feet from the marble base which had to be moved by two people inserting a broomstick through the hole in the base.
Their Snoopy Lamp of 1967 was a table lamp, indeed inspired by the cartoon character, also had a marble base, which stabilized the egg-shaped metal and glass shade. Their "Toio" (1962) lamp again used the PDC method, using a car reflector as its inspiration. Their lighting system for the Montecatini pavilion at the Milan Fair in 1962 featured cone shaped lights suspended from wires.
The Castiglionis also designed the "RR126" stereo system (1965), which was meant to be a "musical pet."
The dials and controls form the shape of a face, with the speakers as ears. This design, for Brionvega, was free standing, with casters to make it mobile, and the speakers folded up when not in use, to make the design more compact.
In 1982 Castiglioni created the cutlery design "Dry" for Alessi, that company's first cutlery line and a seminal product. The design was something of a reaction to the over-formalist, over-functionalist decades of particularly Scandinavian design.