In Milan, 100 designers celebrate Achille Castiglioni

At the Fondazione Achille Castiglioni, an exhibition turns into an unforgettable birthday celebration, described here in the words spoken and objects chosen by Zaven, Odo Fioravanti, Zanellato/Bortotto, Analogia Project and others.

Achille Castiglioni

The exhibition “100 x 100 Achille” inaugurated a few days ago at the Fondazione Achille Castiglioni as a centennial celebration of the Milanese maestro’s birth. As might be expected, it wasn’t a formal affair, but a laughter-filled birthday party with glass-raising guests heartily welcomed by Giovanna Castiglioni and Carlo Castiglioni, Achille’s daughter and son.

On display is a collection of 100 anonymous objects chosen by as many designers. It is an homage to the great interest Castiglioni had for non-designer items: scissors, eyeglasses, gadgets and other fruits of folk ingenuity. From A for Massimiliano Adami to Z for Nika Zupanc, and under the curatorship of Chiara Alessi and Domitilla Dardi, the exhibition reflects the wittiness, light-heartedness and curiosity that characterised Castiglioni as a designer, teacher and friend. The display was devised by Calvi Brambilla.

We asked several of the designers present to tell us how they see Castiglioni, a figure who has remained an undisputed source of learning and inspiration for designers around the world, generation after generation.

“To us, he represents the simple type of elegant design we grew up with,” say Marco Zavagno and Enrica Cavarzan, who form Zaven. “The best part of the evening was seeing and meeting all the designers who came here for him, to celebrate design and simplicity.” Their contribution to the celebration is a beautiful, unadorned Oriental sieve made in metal.

Achille Castiglioni
Achille Castiglioni at the ISAD Istituto Superiore di Architettura e Design in Milan

“Castiglioni is a happy, intelligent, free-spirited thought. Even though he’s gone, that thought will always be with us,” says Odo Fioravanti. The object he chose is one of the smallest on display: a twist tie to close plastic bags.

Giorgia Zanellato and Daniele Bortotto have two words, “Wittiness and curiosity. He had a lot of class, an Italian brand of class you don’t see much anymore, with a permanent cigarette. Participating in this celebration is an honour for us, it’s exciting. As aspiring designers, one of our first pilgrimages was here to his studio-house on Piazza Castello, with Giovanna as our sensational guide. It was one of those experiences that give you a brainwave, when you suddenly understand what road you want to follow, with Castiglioni as your maestro.” From the two Treviso-based designers: a folding measuring stick and a measuring tape.

“We find it fascinating how many anonymous objects are part of our daily life. Achille Castiglioni taught us to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary,” says the duo Analogia Project, which presented a curious device for slicing the buds of Catalonian chicory (puntarelle).

Other objects? A toy car from Francesco Faccin, a pocket knife from Enzo Mari, a bolt and nut from Philippe Nigro, a scale ruler from Andrea Branzi, a pasta colander from mischer’traxler, a ring that opens letters from Francesca Lanzavecchi, a bollard from Uga La Pietra, a banknote from Ron Gilad, a mousetrap from Ingo Maurer, a stone from Michael Anastassiades, and many more can be discovered in the handsome catalogue published by Corraini.

100x100 Achille
Chiara Alessi and Domitilla Dardi
Exhibition design:
Calvi Brambilla
Opening dates:
19 February 2018 – 30 April 2018
Fondazione Achille Castiglioni
piazza Castello 27, Milan

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