It is not uncommon to find experts talking about industrial design and Achille Castiglioni in the same breath. Across countries and continents, this name resonates with everyone who knows about the history and evolution of industrial design. An Italian by origin and fondly referred to as “Cici,” Castiglioni is widely regarded as a master of design. An innovator and imaginative designer, his illustrious legacy lives on even after his death (in 2002).
Born in Milan in the year 1918, Achille Castiglioni was a curious case of unbridled creativity and inquisitiveness. With a professional degree in architecture from the Politecnico di Milano University, he entered the world of industrial design with an aim to experiment with different shapes, novel techniques and new materials. His objective was to create a streamlined design process, while also crafting aesthetically-stunning pieces that combined form and function.
His keen interest in the field of industrial design, put together with his drive for experimenting with industrial products led him to set up a full-fledged design studio in Milan with his brothers, Pier Giacomo and Livio.
Acknowledged as one of the best industrial designers in the post-war era, the Italian craftsman plied his trade relentlessly, delivering numerous works of art and functional products to clients and customers. He also collaborated with some of the biggest industrial houses, design studios and decorative lighting design companies not only in Italy, but across the world.
Achille was one of the founding members of the Association for Industrial Design (ADI), which was established in the year 1956. Having worked extensively in the in the areas of testing and research in the subject of outfittings and presentations for exhibitions, Castiglioni was dynamic and open to new ideas.
He designed and collaborated with other designers or studios on roughly 150 products, most of which are still in production! As his daughter proudly says, “If these objects are still in production, then it means my father is still alive.”
Achille Castiglioni was also keen on giving back to the field of design. He contributed towards shaping the futures of young students by teaching them through his own experiences.
- Professor of Artistic Design for Industry (in 1969)
- Professor at Turin’s Faculty of Architecture (until 1980)
- Professor of Industrial Design in Milan (until 1993)
A lot of Castiglioni’s iconic work has been included in permanent collections in museums and design studios around the globe. One can find no less than 14 of his pieces at the Museum of Modern Art in New York! Some of his other designs can be found in:
- MOMA, New York
- Victoria and Albert Museum, London
- Staatliches Museum fur Angewandte Kunst, Munich
- Israel Museum, Jerusalem
- The Denver Art Museum
- Angewandte Kunst Museum, Hamburg/Cologne
- Kunstgewerbe Museum, Zurich
- Uneleckoprumyslove Museum, Prague
It is no surprise that given his repertoire, skills and the vast ocean of work, he won countless awards and honorary titles over his career span. Achille Castiglioni won nine (yes, nine) Compasso d’Oro awards in his time as a leading beacon of light in the industrial design arena.
Hailed by many as an individual who elevated industrial design to the highest levels of culture, Achille Castiglioni, or Cici, and his designs continue to express and impress people the world over.
FLOS and Achille Castiglioni have a longstanding alliance that features some of his best creations and lamp designs, including the Taraxacum, Frisbi, Arco, Toio, Fucsia, Snoopy, Stylos, Brera S, Parentesi, Lampadina, Viscontea and Gatto Piccolo.