Achille Castiglioni in his studio, Milan
Castiglioni Objects

One of the greatest industrial designers of the 20th century, Achille Castiglioni created some of the most iconic, practical and beautiful objects of modern times. Though his work touches high modernism, minimalism, classicism and 'post-modern' design, he defied any of these definitive categorizations, remaining a truly individualistic artist: a soft-spoken master of architecture, graphic design, industrial design, and education.

He was born in 1918 in Milan, Italy and received his education in Architecture at the Polytechnic of Milan. He graduated in 1944 and quickly became active in the burgeoning design and industrial scene that developed in Milan in the years immediately after World War II. He struck up a fruitful collaboration with his brothers Pier Giacomo and Livio, and began producing objects that were balanced exercises in utilitarianism, function and style. His collaboration with Pier Giacomo lasted until his brother's death in 1968, and resulted in much of the work for which he is best known.

Castiglioni's designs are often described as 'Dadaist' because of their use of 'found materials' and their subtle humor. But they also stem from a deep desire to create things that solve problems, and that facilitate utility while remaining elegant. His objects feature very sophisticated yet simple mechanical elements, beautiful proportions and textures, and a remarkable synthesis of ancient and new ideas. He often used gravity, mechanical tension, and friction to do much of the work of holding his objects together and making them function.

He has been well recognized for his contributions to the world of design, having won the prestigious Italian "Compasso d'Oro" no less than eight times. He co-founded the influential A.D.I. (Association of Industrial Design). Castiglioni was also a celebrated and lively professor, teaching since 1970 at the Polytechnic of Turin, beginning with a course called "Artistic Industrial Design".

Castiglioni continued creating his magically simple, beautiful objects into his 84th year.

Following is a collection of some of the many remarkable objects Castiglioni has created throughout his career, both on his own and in collaboration with his brother Pier Giacomo. Clicking on each of the small objects will take you to that object's page. There is also a text-only page that links to all of the individual object pages.

© Evan Izer, 2003, for design and text. E-mail the webmaster.