Fondazione Achille Castiglioni

Yesterday I had one of the most inspiring days I’ve had in a very long time.


After rushing through Milan with my suitcase, I finally made it to the private tour of the Fondazione Achille Castiglioni all sweaty, you know that Italian heat of 34 degrees before noon, yeah – that. I was welcomed by the biggest smile, the one of Giovanna Castiglioni. I was part of a very small group of people (all english speaking – great if you’re not Italian), which I loved as it made the experience more personal.

As you walk into the space, it immediately hit me. The books, the objects, the colors. Everything felt spontaneous and playful. Light bulbs disposed in a bowl like they were candy, sketches laying here and there, objects of so many shapes and colors collected over the years because of Achille Castiglioni was a firm believer that:

“you can find inspiration everywhere”.

The studio, preserved as if Achille himself was still working, was filled with light. We got to explore the different rooms, each filled with character. Giovanna, explains the behind the scenes from some of his most iconic designs. Her sense of humor and playfulness is an extension of her father. You got the feeling that the man didn’t like to take himself too seriously – and that’s what I’ve always loved about his approach to design.

Very different from the approach on design these days, where nothing really has been able to leave an impression on me, as I was distancing myself from the group to take pictures, I felt moved. I know, I know, it sounds so dramatic but why dial it down just to play it cool. As I’m getting older, I’ve started to give a greater value to having a sense of humor, and not taking oneself and life, in general, too seriously and that’s what it comes across from Castiglioni’s work and her daughter as well. The playfulness of the objects you could find around, the chaos of tools, and boxes, and artifacts collected were part of that creative genius.

“If you’re not curious, forget it!”

Each object had a purpose, and form followed function so nothing was merely aesthetics. What I appreciate about Achille Castiglioni’s designs is the ability to create such a variety of objects that somehow all look different from each other as a result of the curiosity behind his processes. What I struggle most these days design-wise, is the inability for designers to create something that doesn’t look like everything else. Or, a pet peeve of mine, is when a designer creates a variation of the exact same product for different clients. Gaaah, don’t get me all reveled up.

Take Gibigiana for instance, it was born out of the necessity of keeping a healthy relationship with your partner. Why bother the other person if one wants to sleep and the other knit. Direct the light as you wish. And this was only one of the many examples of form follows function approach in Achille Castiglioni’s work.

If you’ve made it so far, good job! You deserve a candy or a hug but let me wrap it up. I left with a sense of joy, feeling inspired like never before. Yes, this experience for me was like a yoga retreat or whatever retreat, please, place here your equivalent analogy. I am not sponsored in any way, shape or form to write this article so if you don’t go you’re a fool – and I can say it because it’s not a sponsored post. Oh, and if you do go, tell Giovanna that the lady with the bandana, the one who wouldn’t leave, says hi!


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