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Achille Castiglioni

1918 Mailand
2002 Mailand

The Italian designer Achille Castiglioni was the youngest of the three Castiglioni brothers. Like his brothers, Achille studied architecture at Milan Polytechnic, taking his degree in 1944. Achille Castiglioni also worked as an architect but is primarily known as one of the most important Italian designers.
Achille Castiglioni exerted a formative influence on 20th-century design and has been a role model for generations of designers. In 1944 Achille joined the practice founded by his elder brothers, Livio and Pier Giacomo. From 1952 Livio went his own way. Pier Giacomo and Achille Castiglioni would continue to realize numerous designs as a well-matched team.
In 1957 the exhibition "Colori e forme nella casa d'oggi" (Colors and Forms in Today's Home) was mounted at the Villa Olmo in Como, where Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni presented their vision of a modern lifestyle. This was a colorful jumble of styles that incorporated old and new furnishings instead of uniformly styled interiors. At the Villa Olmo Pier Giacomo and Achille Castiglioni first showed their readymade designs. "Mezzadro" a stool consisting of a tractor seat mounted on a substructure and "Sella", a telephone stool featuring a bicycle seat, were not made by Zanotta until years later.
Pier Giacomo and Achille Castiglioni were especially successful with the lighting they designed for Arredoluce, Artemide, and particularly Flos. Founded in 1962, Flos premièred the following Castiglioni lamps "Taraxacum" (1960), "Splügen Bräu" (1961), and "Arco" (1962), which would be followed by many more hits. After the death of his brother Pier Giacomo in 1968, Achille Castiglioni continued to run the practice alone.
In 1971 he designed "Lampadina", a table lamp, and, in 1972 "Noce", a multipurpose table, ceiling, and wall lamp. In 1978 "Frisbi" was launched, a lamp which looks like a glowing Ufo. "Gibigiana", a table lamp dating from 1980, is one of Achille Castiglioni's best known designs. In 1998, at the age of eighty, Achille Castiglioni designed "Diabolo", a hanging lamp for which he was again awarded the Compasso d'Oro.
Achille Castiglioni's designs are notable for a playful use of defamiliarization and striving for minimal form. Function ranks above aesthetics although form is never neglected. "So sophisticated and so simple - I like that!" was how Achille Castiglioni described his philosophy of design.
The Castiglioni brothers not only had a formative influence on later generations of Italian designers. Pier Giacomo Castiglioni taught design at Milan Polytechnic (1946-68). Achille Castiglioni taught interior decoration and industrial design there (1982-86) after holding a chair for industrial design at Turin Polytechnic (1970-80).
The Museum of Modern Art owns many works by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni.

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