Since we last spoke with Giovanna Castiglioni, the Achille Castiglioni Foundation has launched more than five exhibitions and released its first collection of designs from her father's archive – with 2014 shaping up to be the biggest year for the foundation yet. Well known for iconic pieces including the Mezzadro stool, Cumano table, Allunagio and Sella Stool all manufactured since Achille Castiglioni penned their designs in the early 20th century, the foundation has just finished curating a collection of designs including some that have gone into production for the very first time.
HD: Tell us about some of the projects Studio Museum Achille Castiglioni (SMAC) has been working on this year. GC: 2013 has been an exciting year. We organised a lot of projects at the Achille Castiglioni Foundation, we have been full of events. During the summer, from June to August, visitors to the Achille Castiglioni Foundation in Milano were guided on a trip to discover the hard copy versions and the prototypes that led to the creation of the light fitting Gibigiana which was designed for Flos in 1980. Until now, the documentation in the Gibigiana archives was stored in the boxes in the prototype rooms; they have since been revived in the exhibition facilities of the Foundation and are presented in a new experimental light. The same happened just a few months ago with the project 'l’Altra metà dell’Avanguardia' (The other side of Avant-garde). We also hosted the workshop 'Arduino e la luce' (Arduino and Light) run by Massimo Banzi that interacted with the world of lighting.
From November this year until March 2014 we are showing 'Casa Castiglioni' (Castiglioni's Home), a real home with Castiglioni’s objects and furniture. During these months we are involved in theatrical performance at Castiglioni's Home (special actors for this event Marco Marzini and Giovanna Castiglioni, a reservation is required) and special dinners at the foundation. Moreover, we took 'Casa Castiglioni' to Palermo. in Sicily. to an historical Norman castle. The set-up of every exhibition was made by Marco Marzini.
What is happening with the development of design projects from the archive?
For a while now the Achille Castiglioni Foundation has been thinking about re-editing a selection of pieces that were no longer available or have never before been available, maintaining the original design and taking advantage of new technology to make give them a new lease of life. By looking after this projects directly, we are also in a position to guarantee the quality and above all, the credibility of the products and the spirit with which, and way in which, they are presented to the public.
Thanks to our collaboration with Yoox we are able to properly present these pieces with their design context, showing not only the single pieces but also the modus operandi used by Achille Castiglioni. The aim of the foundation is to expand the range every year to enrich the number of objects of Castiglioni and avoid an exclusive limited edition. In the design of Castiglioni there is no real identifiable 'style' – we chose these first objects because they are still modern and useful even for today. All five objects are now available directly through the foundation or on the Yoox site in an area dedicated to us.
Sleek is a design object and it was created with careful planning of the function, which has determined its final shape. Ondula is a fruit basket that is easy to make and its shape allows us to show a lot of different fruits and make them easily accessible. Record was the result of the long term collaboration and friendship with Max Huber and even in this case we find a tribute to Achille's watch used when he was young and made with a strap removable and replaceable in various colors. Huber created a watch-face design which is fast and easy to read. The Grembiule is a house coat full of pockets to facilitate daily work. Also in this case, with the collaboration of the graphic Max Huber they was able to change a simple smock into a cheerful and ironic functional object. The Cacciavite fits perfectly into the logical design by the Castiglioni brothers because on the shelf there is a groove which prevents the fall of liquid or objects. In addition, the table is easily disassembled and reassembled because the legs are screwed directly to the slab without additional mechanisms.
How will SMAC take part in the Milan Furniture Fair in 2014, any events in the planning? We are planning an important exhibition about ‘Camera di Commercio’ – the Chamber of Commerce in Milano – an exhibit about design and architecture in cooperation with Stilnovo, an Italian brand of light fittings. This project was designed by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni on 1957 and we have a lot of archive materials. Once again we would like to share this information with our visitors. For this occasion we will transform rooms into ad hoc exhibitions at the foundation.
What else can we look forward to from SMAC next year?
I hope we will be ready with other objects to sell to support and help activities of the Foundation. We will be ready in few weeks to sell a wonderful shelf system designed by Castiglioni’s brother in 1957 and now self-produced by the foundation. And we are always ready to organise new projects and activities in our studio museum to energise every visitor!
To keep updated on activities of the Achille Castiglioni Foundation and Studio Museum Achille Castiglioni visit the website here.