Achille Castiglioni (1918-2002) was one of the twentieth century’s most influential industrial designers and was honoured with eight Compasso d’Oro awards during his lifetime. Castiglioni believed that, before designing, a designer had to first analyse how necessary the product was and then fully investigate the means that were available to develop and produce it.
Castiglioni’s designs were often inspired by (and made use of) everyday items, including aluminium and stainless steel. Others, including the 1957 Stella stool that featured a pivoting bicycle seat mounted on a tubular stem and a cast iron base, were inspired by the designer’s love of wit and paradox.
Born in Milan, he studied architecture at the city’s polytechnic, a college he would return to as a tutor in the 1980s. After graduating he established a design studio with his elder brothers, working on commissions for Italian manufacturers during the post-war renaissance. Some of the relationships Castiglioni formed during these early experiences lasted throughout the designer’s lifetime, notably one with Flos, an Italian lighting manufacturer, for whom he developed the Arco floor lamp in 1962. Modelled on a streetlight the lamp could project a light source eight feet away from its marble base.
Achille Castiglioni designed the Record watch for Alessi in collaboration with Swiss graphic designer Max Huber. The playful and easy-to-read watch was one of the last projects Castiglioni worked on, and is an excellent example of the designer’s minimalist aesthetic.