A Celebrated Designer, An Architect And A Second World War Veteran: Happy Birthday, Achille Castiglioni!

Posted by Manhattan Home Design on Feb 15th 2017

“Design demands observation” is what his motto was. That’s Achille Castiglioni for you. Haven’t heard of him? If you’re a mid century modern enthusiast, it’s time you brush up your knowledge. And if you aren’t a mid century modern enthusiast, read on, you will be one by the end of this post!

Coming back, Achille Castiglioni would have turned 99 on 16th February, 2017. So, we thought why not dwell deeper into his philosophy and work and give you an insight into his style of performance.


Born in 1918 in Milan, Italy, Achille Castiglioni has been a part of the design for more than 150 objects so far. The Arco Lamp designed by him, is a part of the permanent collections of several museums. Achille Castiglioni’s two brothers, Pier Giacomo and Livio, opened a small designing office for everyday objects in Milan, as there weren’t many large architectural projects at that time. Achille joined them towards the end of World War II.

As Livio was inclined towards light and sound installations, he left the trio in 1952. Post which, Pier Giacomo and Achille, worked collaboratively until Pier Giacomo’s untimely death in 1968.

Design Philosophy

Achille Castiglioni, was well aware and in tandem with the core principles of his, just like anyone with his expertise would. He often said, “Start from scratch. Stick to common sense. Know your goals and means.” Explaining further, he added, “In other words, the designer must not take for granted any previous similar object, must understand the reason for creating a new product or improving an existing one, and must be aware of the available resources.”

Much like his thoughts, Castiglioni took inspiration from simple everyday objects. For example, the Arco Lamp is the result of an inspiration from a street lamp. He had classified his creations in two broad categories - the readymade ones and the redesigned ones.

Readymade products were the ones which were mass produced and could be used in his creations. On the other hand, redesigned products were the ones that needed improvisation on the basis of the current day necessities and technological advancements.

Owing to his strong Italian familiarity with Italian arts and craftsmanship, Castiglioni was a revered designer.

Role Sorcerer

Achille Castiglioni, apart from being an ace designer, was also a teacher at the Industrial Design course of the Architectural School of the Polytechnic of Milan. Echoing his style of work, Castiglioni demonstrated the power of simple, ingenuous and seemingly unremarkable common objects using everyday objects.

He often used to tell his students, “What you need is a constant and consistent way of designing, not a style.”

With the thought of stimulating his students to explore the design and its potential themselves, Castiglion would often start his classes by using objects based on common sense and available resources.

You can read his last interview, here.

Lastly, if you like what we’ve written, leave us a comment with any other information about the illustrious Achille Castiglioni.