In 2010 when Achille Castiglioni's daughter Giovanna visited Australia to speak at Space and the Powerhouse Museum, the studio's future was uncertain. Five years after it had opened its doors in 2005, with the financial and cultural backing of La Triennale di Milano, the financial support had ended and the question the design world was asking was, what would become of Achille's studio that holds the treasures of a career that unfolded here from 1944 until 2002?
The studio is without doubt one of the most visited places in Milan for designers, architects, and the general public who can freely explore rooms that overflow with models, prototypes, books and a life lived through design.
Two years on, the Castiglioni family; Giovanna, her mother Irma, sister Monica and brother Carlo, have been busy shoring up its future in the form of a charitable foundation that officially launched on 14 December, 2011. Here we talk with an excited Giovanna Castiglioni who shares with us the big plans the family has for the museum, the foundation and the design world at large.
Heidi Dokulil: Would you briefly describe the Studio Museum Achille Castiglioni?
Giovanna Castiglioni: I am the Vice-President of the Achille Castiglioni Foundation and I have been in charge of the studio museum since 2005. My mum Irma opened the doors of this studio when Achille died in 2002 and it was a normal step for her to continue to share stories regarding Achille's life. She is so generous and open. My brother Carlo is the President of the foundation and my sister Monica is the Honorary President because we would like to save this studio in Piazza Castello 27 in Milan. I know we have on our shoulders a big responsibility but personally I am happy because since we opened the doors we received 24,000 people from all over the world. It's amazing.
Every day we welcome different people with a wide range of interests: architects, designers and curious people who want to know stories behind objects... and also friends of friends and students. People who are close to the Achille Castiglioni philosophy. At the same time we continue to archive all of Castiglioni's projects that are already preserved in our studio museum thanks to Achille's historical collaborators. Achille was so precise so it's still possible to find sketches, technical drawings, prototypes, magazines, photos, maquettes, invoices, contracts and a lot of surprises!
HD: Could you please describe the role of the new Achille Castiglioni Foundation and the people and organisations involved in making it possible?
GC: The Achille Castiglioni Foundation was established on 14 December, 2011. The mandate of the foundation is to highlight, protect and display the material that makes Achille Castiglioni's cultural, professional and human legacy accessible to all. From 2006 the Design Museum Foundation based in La Triennale Milano was an important partner who has supported our family. Today I am happy to say that they are still our institutional founding partner and we are working to continue to do a lot of activities. Unfortunately this help is not enough.
HD: How will the foundation provide a more flexible platform for the museum and the security it needs?
GC: Our challenge is to continue to share with everyone, through the guided tours and archive, stories about Achille's creative process. Now that we are a foundation we will get involved with the historical manufacture because we continue to have a wonderful relationship and partnership with some of the original manufacturers.
HD: What projects is the foundation working on now?
GC: First of all, the foundation announced a competition for Italian or foreign students who live in Italy, up to the age of thirty-two, to design the logo for the Achille Castiglioni Foundation. Second, we are going to make an exhibition of the architect and designer Lorenzo Damiani. We will host him in this studio during the Milan Furniture Fair in April. I think he is a smart guy, with a lot of passion for his job and a similar feeling to Achille Castiglioni's creative process... Lorenzo is also so ironic!
Now I want to share a dream with you. Last September I was the curator of an exhibition 'At Castiglioni's Home' in collaboration with Marco Marzini who is the new generation collaborator of the Studio Museum Castiglioni. The Castiglioni home was a real house, a cube 80 square metres by 80 square metres, and full of objects designed by Castiglioni for different manufacturing companies. The set up was designed like a theatre in which scenes of everyday life take place and where the actors – Marco and I – were interacting with the objects. We lived in this home and the objects were moved around and re-organised every two hours. It was an absolutely wonderful experience for us and for visitors! You can find pictures on our website. My dream is to move the house and this project around the world to explain to everyone that Achille Castiglioni is still alive in all of his projects... I am working to organise the tour. Maybe we will be in Switzerland and London, San Francisco and Russia. Please cross your fingers for us!
HD: How can we all get involved?
Please come and visit us in Milan, you are all most welcome! If you want to follow us and believe in our projects, feel free to contact us. You could find all of our details on our official website. I hope to continue to find friends of Achille Castiglioni Foundation around the world who want to support us. I hope to see you again in Australia. Ciao ciao arrivederci a presto.
Thank you Giovanna.
For more information about the Achille Castiglioni Foundation and the Studio Museum Achille Castiglioni, or to book a tour, you can visit their website here. Tours of the studio are held daily during the Milan Furniture Fair.