Achille Castiglioni

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Achille Castiglioni
Portrait of Achille Castiglioni (1918–2002), cropped.jpg
Born16 February 1918
Milan, Italy
Died2 December 2002 (2002-12-03) (aged 84)
Castiglioni's watch designed for Alessi
The RR126 stereo system

Achille Castiglioni (Italian pronunciation: [aˈkille kastiʎˈʎoːni]; 16 February 1918 – 2 December 2002) was an Italian designer of furniture, lighting, radiograms and other objects.[1][2][3]


Castiglioni was born on 16 February 1918 in Milan, in Lombardy in northern Italy. He was the third son of the sculptor Giannino Castiglioni and his wife Livia Bolla. His elder brothers Livio and Pier Giacomo were both architects.

Castiglioni studied classics at the Liceo classico Giuseppe Parini [it] in Milan, but switched to study the arts at the Liceo artistico di Brera. In 1937 he enrolled in the faculty of architecture of the Politecnico di Milano.[4] When the Second World War broke out, he became an officer in the artillery, and was stationed on the Greek front and later in Sicily. He returned to Milan before the Allied Invasion of 1943. In March 1944 he graduated from the Politecnico.[4]

When the War was over, Castiglioni joined the architectural design practice that his brothers Livio and Pier Giacomo had started with Luigi Caccia Dominioni in 1938.[5] Much of their work was in exhibition design, but they also carried out a number of architectural projects, including the reconstruction in 1952–53 of the Palazzo della Permanente [it], which had been destroyed by bombing in 1943.[4]

Livio Castiglioni left the practice in 1952. From then until Pier Giacomo died in 1968, he and Achille worked as a team; their designs are not attributable to either one of them.[5][4] After the death of Pier Giacomo, Castiglioni worked alone. From 1969 he taught architectural and design subjects, first at the Politecnico di Torino, and then, from 1980 when he became an ordinario or full professor, at the Politecnico di Milano.[4]

Achille Castiglioni died on 2 December 2002 in Milan.[4]


The Castiglioni brothers designed the Lierna chair – an upright dining-chair in lacquered wood with a slightly padded plywood seat – for Cassina in 1960.[6][7]: 173 [8][9]: 79 [10]: 356 

In the exhibition brochure for Design!, the 1997 monographic exhibition about Castiglioni's work at MoMA Paola Antonelli writes: "Castiglioni loves paradoxes and the new perception and wisdom they can engender. One example is the Sella (saddle), the pivoting stool designed with Pier Giacomo in 1957, which garnered the Castiglionis an incongruous "Dadaist" label because of its use of an already existing, everyday object in an unexpected context."[11]


  1. ^ Achille Castiglioni Biography, London Design Museum Archived 24 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Spalter in MOMA Collection
  3. ^ Luminator in MOMA Collection
  4. ^ a b c d e f Dario Scodeller (2015). Castiglioni, Achille (in Italian). Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani. Roma: Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana. Accessed January 2016.
  5. ^ a b William Hamilton (5 December 2002). Achille Castiglioni, 84, Italian Home Designer, Is Dead. New York Times. Accessed January 2016.
  6. ^ Lorenzo Morandotti (13 April 2014). Maestri del mobile (in Italian). Corriere di Como.
  7. ^ Sergio Polano (ed.) (2001). Achille Castiglioni: tutte le opere, 1938-2000 (in Italian). Milan: Electa. ISBN 9788843575398.
  8. ^ Sedia Lierna (in Italian). Fondazione Achille Castiglioni. Archived 14 July 2014.
  9. ^ Giuliana Gramigna, Sergio Mazza (2003). Repertorio del design italiano 1950-2000 per l'arredamento domestico (in Italian). Torino; New York: U. Allemandi. ISBN 9788842211587.
  10. ^ Giulio Castelli, Paola Antonelli, Francesca Picchi (2007). La fabbrica del design: conversazioni con i protagonisti del design italiano (in Italian). Milan: Skira. ISBN 9788861301443.
  11. ^ Antonelli, Paola (16 October 1997). "Achille Castiglioni Design!" (PDF). MoMA: 3.