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Achille Castiglioni

Achille Castiglioni

Achille Castiglioni (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 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.

Achille Castiglioni was born in Milan and 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). And, like his contemporaries, Castiglioni took an active part in Italy's postwar design renaissance. Lack of funds for large architectural projects forced designers to focus on small objects like furniture, tableware, lighting, radios, typewriters and office equipment.

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.

Castiglioni himself possessed a creative potency and flexibility that gave birth to an array of stylistically varied objects including the minimalist Parentesi Lamp, the "ready made" Taccia and the poetic Fucsia Hanging Lamp. One of his favorite design strategies was to place a familiar form in an unexpected context – a tractor seat atop a stool, an automobile headlight reflector as a table lamp.

His highly individual work still displays an ironic humor, lively sense of paradox, and thoughtful concern for formal balance. During his long career, he has been a professor of interior and industrial design at both the Politecnico di Torino and Politecnico di Milano and has been honored with eight Compasso d'Oro awards. He is one of the most important and complex figures in Italian design of the 20th century.

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