Bright Spark

A look at the life of Achille Castiglioni

flos-achille-castiglioni

There are few names that truly become revered as design icons. Achille Castiglioni is such a name. A frequent collaborator with Flos Lighting, this year marked a century since the artisan designer was born – an event celebrated by Flos with no uncertain amount of admiration.

So what exactly is it that makes a designer’s name endure in the world of luxury lighting? Just like an artist might create a work of art in response to the times in which they live, so too do great designers emerge to create solutions for day-to-day life.

Simply put, great designs are ones that speak to the needs of their generation. Designers can achieve this through a multitude of different ways, whether it be through architecture, interior design, or all the way down to product design.

Born in Milan in 1918, Castiglioni was a student of design and architecture his entire life. Once he finished his architectural studies in Milan, he went on to join his brothers working at their family’s design firm in 1944.

It was with his brother, Pier Giacomo, that he designed many of his most famous lighting products, including the celebrated Arco Floor Lamp, the Snoopy Table Lamp, and the Taccia Table Lamp – all produced by the Italian lighting brand, FLOS.

It was with FLOS that many of these iconic pieces were and are still produced today. One could even go as far as to say that Castiglioni made the lighting brand the design powerhouse it is today. His influence is one that remains clearly feslt.

Castiglioni’s approach to design has been described as innovative, imaginative, and always with a dash of humour. His stance on new and innovative designs is perhaps best described in his own words: “Start from scratch, stick to common sense, and know your goals and means.”

Such a philosophy no doubt developed during the years he designed in post-World War II Milan. As one might suspect, being a designer in post-war Italy offered up certain challenges. The atmosphere he was surrounded by offered a prime opportunity for Castiglioni to experiment.

It was nearly 1960 when Achille and Pier Giacamo started together with Flos. After Sergio Gandini arrived in 1962, they started to experiment with the material for their cocoon lamps in Merano, in the north of Italy.

It inspired (and still inspires) young designers to look around, and to think of objects in new ways. Consequently, it also encourages innovation and experimentation to make things better. Much like Castiglioni did with regularity throughout his career.

Celebrations and special product releases have abounded this year in honor of Castiglioni’s 100th birthday. Flos recently released an updated limited edition version of his classic Snoopy Lamp, with a reflector in a matte finish in contrast to the original glossy version.

Flos also paid further tribute to Castiglioni with a special display at this year’s Salone del Mobile. The illuminated, cartoon strip-like display managed to capture Castiglioni’s sense of humor and playfulness, while also showing off the variety and creativity of his work.