Achille Castiglioni’s designs were often inspired by everyday things and made use of ordinary materials like extruded aluminum and stainless steel. The genius of his inventive imagination was in his ability to use the minimal amount of materials while creating forms with a maximum effect. “Start from scratch, stick to common sense, and know your goals and means,” he often told his students, and he clearly took his own advice.
Along with other postwar designers like Marco Zanuso and Ettore Sottsass, Castiglioni was a product of the artisan tradition of fine craftsmanship and a familial passion for sensual, expressive forms. With his brothers, designers Livio and Pier Giacomo, Achille helped establish the Milan Trienniale, the Compasso d’Oro awards and the ADI. And, like his contemporaries, Castiglioni took an active part in Italy’s postwar design renaissance. Lack of funds for large architectural projects forced designers to focus on small objects like furniture, tableware, lighting, radios, typewriters and office equipment.