Lost and found: Castiglioni and Cavaglià’s writing kit

An unreleased project now in production. The wooden prototypes of a writing set were hidden behind a mirror in the studio of Achille Castiglioni, who loved to draw, “but wrote very little”. 

“In the daily routine outside the studio, when in need of a pencil, if it didn't appear immediately in his hand, as he rummaged in his pocket, Achille Castiglioni would ask in a firm tone: but don't we have a pencil?”. Perhaps it is precisely this memory, shared by Gianfranco Cavaglià, who worked with the great master for thirty years, and his children Giovanna and Carlo, who lived with him every day, that best explains how the idea of putting an unpublished prototype back into production came about. And perhaps to tell the story on the very day that Achille Castiglioni would have turned 103 (he was born in Milan on 16 February 1918). 

Their children Giovanna and Carlo explain that they found, hidden and kept behind the large corner mirror in their father's studio – which since 2012 has been home to the Fondazione Achille Castiglioni – the prototypes for this project, co-signed by Achille Castiglioni and Gianfranco Cavaglià, entitled “the instruments for writing”. The wooden prototypes, produced by Bottega Ghianda, reproduced the three-lobed arch shape designed by Castiglioni and Cavaglià to represent the true alliance between mind, hand (fingers) and object, as well as having the practical characteristic (and here we return to Castiglioni's idea of functional design for everyday use) of not rolling on the table. “This last aspect seemed to be of some interest to us”, Cavaglià recalls with a smile. 

“Our father loved to draw, but wrote very little”, explains Giovanna. “One of his passions, however, was greeting cards or thank-you notes, which he drew, wrote and designed down to the last detail, a team effort in which mind and hand formed a perfect combination”. 

Achille Castiglioni loved to draw, but wrote very little

The “writing instruments” project remained in the drawer for many years, as it did not find the indispensable and precise interpretation of the original design intentions, nor the investments required by such a complex production because of the unusual section chosen.

This brings us to 2020, the year in which Fondazione Achille Castiglioni, Cavaglià and Team EGO.M, a team of “wild and enterprising” young people (as Giovanna Castiglioni defined them) from Bologna meet at the Scuole Malpighi, the place where they develop their knowledge and educational growth. It is to them that the development and production of the project is entrusted.

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