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Elle Decor Italia

3 design icons by Achille Castiglioni

The greatest master of Made in Italy design relives through 3 legendary creations


Achille Castiglioni is among the 20th-century greatest masters of design, whose personal biography is all-in-one with Italy’s long-standing design history: after earning a degree in Architecture in 1944, he soon focused on developing an integral design process based on the interactive potential of three key factors: shape, technique and material. His design creations – as well as his design philosophy – have set the guidelines for the future to come: indeed, a world-renowned name when it comes to his light pieces and industrial design products, Castiglioni is also widely acknowledged for the utterly evocative settings he realised up and down the globe. He was a learned professor and an invaluable ambassador for Made in Italy creativity, strong of his huge array of must-haves still manufactured by illustrious furniture brands and showcased in the world’s most accredited museums. Castiglioni was awarded 9 Compasso d’Oro ADI, and is the author of the three unforgettable projects listed below.



Arco - Achille & Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, 1962, Flos

The most famous floor lamp in the whole world. A hybrid project with a deep sense of suspension, it did set new rules as for the dining table/light piece’s interaction by getting rid of the more conventional ceiling location. A Carrara white marble base, with the shape of a parallelepiped with rounded corners wighting about 65 kg, is matched with a telescopic stainless steel stem consisting of three elements with U section, sliding one inside the other, allowing to have different amplitudes of the arc and adjustable heights of the polished aluminium domed shade. The steel steam is extendable to a maximum span from base to light of up to 2 metres, while the required ceiling height to accommodate the lamp shall be at least 2,5 metres. 

Arco is inspired to street lighting and brings the very ideas of flexibility and dynamism in the world of lighting fixtures. Its silhouette has quickly turned into a timeless synonym with style, and was granted copyright protection in 2007 as if it was an actual artwork. In case you missed it, the hole in the base is to insert a solid broomstick for carrying.



Mezzadro – Achille & Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, 1957, Zanotta

A must-have in private homes and public spaces, Mezzadro – in production since 1971 – makes room for the concept of object trouvé in the furniture field, meaning the stroke of genius of reusing a pressisting object if not a part of it, keeping its shape but changing its place and the way it is used. Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni designed the stool by employing the seat of a farm tractor, made almost half a century earlier for the exhibition “Colors and Shapes in the Contemporary Home”, set up at Villa Olmo, in Como, in 1957. The displacement was radical, and it shows a design and social vision ahead of its time. Mezzadro is an inter-class object, lightheartedly combining irony and comfort.

The stool is made of four elements. An elastic chromium-plated steel stem supports the seat, which is made of lacquered and printed metal sheet. Ground support is ensured by a footrest in steam-treated, natural colored beech. The stool’s fastening pin is a “metallic wing nut commonly used for the blockage of bicycles’ wheels”. 



Scrittarello, Achille Castiglioni, 1996, De Padova

Inspired by the Italian rationalist school of the 1930s-40s, such masterpiece of lightness was designed by Achille Castiglioni back in 1996. With the looks of a small-sized writing desk, Scrittarello is a neologism meant for relaxing activity like reading, writing, or simply thinking. Perfect in the bedroom or in a corner, the desk comprises a simple surface for work with two shelves on the side, coming in white laminate with birch plywood borders, along with four slender legs built in natural birch. Since one of the key features of the design process is the logical link between the formal expression and the content choices made by the designer, that is where Scrittarello – and its smaller version, Scrittarello/Cec – take its name.

by Redazione / 18 December 2017


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