Today we visited the Studio Museo of Achille Castiglioni and had a private tour with his daughter Giovanna. I am beginning to think I died and went to Design Heaven...
Located on the Piazza Castello, in an 18th-century palazzo, the work space is filled with many original designs, prototypes, countless drawings, photographs, and a limitless collection of items her father used to inspire his designs. As I entered the studio, the energy and presence of the famous designer could be felt within the walls as if he had been there yesterday.
Giovanna started with the simplest of his designs, and one that is often overlooked in the design world...the VLM light switch. Designed in 1968, this inexpensive and very sleek switch is still used throughout the world and in millions of homes.
The Arco Light, designed in 1962 as a floor lamp but works as an overhead light with no need for wiring. As pointed out by his daughter the hole in the base is not part of the design, but it was made to slide a broom handle through so two people could carry the heavy lamp. As with most of his designs always practical with a bit of humor.
The Basello coffee table....Giovanna showed us how she used as a desk when she did homework as a child and how she sat on the upper shelf and her father on the lower to be eye to eye.
Mezzadro Stool (1957) and the Stella Chair (1983), one very comfortable and the other not. The Mezzadro Stool made from mass produced tractor seats. We could not sit on the one in the conference room, it was the real prototype. The Stella, designed to fit in the small hallway where the telephone hung on the wall in the Italian home. Uncomfortable? Yes, so you would not talk long, it was expensive to talk long. Why the color pink, because the leader of the Giro d'Italia Race was given a pink jersey.
...Our group moves to the conference room... there is a large wooden table surrounded by famous chairs, we each pick a seat. Giovanna begins by giving each of us the history of our chair...it was unbelievable. Pointing to objects on the table, she continues to fascinate us with more stories and history. I really must stop, you just need to go there! if you are ever in Milan this should be top on your list! The sad part is they are in need of funding to continue sharing this space with the world. It would be a shame if they have to close their doors.
A slinky was used as a design inspiration for this ashtray
A favorite photo of the designer...his daughter said that he loved wearing this.