di Secondome

In the sign of lightness. It was not an easy task setting up the retrospective exhibition for the 100th anniversary of Achille Castiglioni, father of italian design, and turning it into and experience both scientific and enjoyable, with the just right amount of irony, after all, Achille’s approach to design was ironic as well.

“To Castiglioni”, until January 20th at Milan Triennale, is a trip into the extensive production by “Cicci” as he was lovingly called by relatives, friends and colleagues, through his “long century”, structured in an unusual way by curators Patricia Urquiola and Federica Sala: not following a timeline, but set up in thematic clusters where a product reminds others from different periods. Achille’s genius – as well as his brothers’ Livio and Pier Giacomo – led the designer to develop ideas which resulted in different ones, even years later.

That’s how in the different areas of the Triennale you can admire Achille’s creations grouped following a project continuity instead of a timeline, with a set up built on rhizomes, the impossible geometric shapes theorized by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari that connect a point to any other, with none of both recalling other of the same kind. Basically an apparent chaos that subtely hides the creativity’s fil rouge, avoiding hierachies, especially the more predictable ones.There are twenty clusters, Federica Sala explains, and are actual microcosms you venture into without any specific route, moving to one point to any other. A contemporary and immersive idea of setting, coherent with the more experience-based and less pedagogic approach to the culture.

There are more than two hundred piece in show, from Alessi to Zanotta, to Flos and other historical brands which Castiglioni worked for. There are also architectures and installations realized for showroom, fairs and exhibitions. Keep it simple is the section of the iconic lamps of Italian desing: Tubino, Luminator, Parentesi. To Parenesi is dedicated the Traparentesi installation created by Studio Urquiola with Flos: one hundred units activate in front of the specators, accompanied by the recorded voice of Castiglioni himself and the noise of daily use objects. In the Ready Making cluster, Sony Design reinterprets through technology the icons Toio and Lampadina together with the stools Sella and Mezzadro.

The curatorial work brought Urquiola and Sala to spend months between the Achille Castiglioni Foundation and several archives, both private and corporate, “looking for unknown items and missing tiles to picture such a complex character”, explains Federica.

The result is a journey into the genius of a man and the made in Italy, but also an enlightning tour that sparks into the visitor an idea of how an intuition comes and grows to become fulfilled design.

Photo: Gianluca Di Iola