May 8, 2010

Effetto Castiglioni

DZINE founders Eve and Cardenio Petrucci recently returned from a trip to Milan for the Salone del Mobile. Having a few extra days to kill while the smoke from Iceland’s volcano cleared, they were able to make a long-awaited visit to the Effetto Castiglioni exhibit. See their experience below.

Cardenio Petrucci with Monica Castiglioni.

While in Italy we had the good fortune of making some new friends. At dinner one night we were introduced to Monica Castiglioni, the daughter of the late design genius Achille Castiglioni. After having a great conversation with her about her father, we discovered that she is a designer herself - a jewelry designer (she’s also a great photographer!). Later that week we visited her small shop and studio in the Isola neighborhood of Milan. She has a beautiful, unique collection of rings, bracelets, and necklaces that she has designed, as well as various other interesting accessories, each with a story. See for yourself by visiting her site . The next day we visited her father’s studio, which is now is a museum. When we arrived we met MOnnica’s sister, Giovanna Castiglioni. Giovanna runs the museum and give a fantastic tour of her father’s studio, providing loads of entertainment and inspiration for any lover of design. If ever in Milan, visiting the Castiglioni museum should be a top priority.

Eve and Cardenio Petrucci with Giovanna Castiglioni (middle) with the dog Linea (line) in the Castiglioni studio.

Those few extra days in Milan also allowed us the time to see the exhibition “Effetto Castiglioni” at the DePadova showroom. Some of the models on display had been stored away in his studio for years and had not seen since his death in 2002. Both Castiglioni daughters, Monica and Giovanna, said that their father would have definitely approved of the exhibit, so congratulations to Didi Gnocchi, the exhibition’s curator.

"A tribute to an unfamiliar side of Achille Castiglioni. Effetto Castiglioni, the exhibition in Milan from 12 to 24 April 2010 at the De Padova showroom, presents for the first time the models of exhibit designs and architectural projects by this great master. Twenty-three models stored until today at the Studio Museo Achille Castiglioni of the Triennale Design Museum will leave their cardboard boxes to narrate the expertise of Castiglioni, in a path that extends from the 1950s to 2000.

Not just an internationally acclaimed master of design, but also a creator of works of architecture, including temporary structures like stands and installations for fairs and exhibitions. Projects documented precisely at the crucial moment of the creative idea: the model.
Achille Castiglioni, in the early years with his brother Pier Giacomo and then with his staff, patiently shaped and brought to life every creative intuition through the use of plaster casts, cardboard and materials of all kinds, to test the functional efficacy of his ideas. To experience their “effect”.

From the Gruppo Rionale Fascista, ironically made using slices of cheese, to the traveling exhibits for RAI, from the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan to the installation for the Fernand L├ęger exhibition, all the way to the briefcase with models of four parish churches, the maquettes narrate a design path that reveals how Achille’s father Giannino Castiglioni, a realist painter and sculptor, transmitted the love of materials and manual gestures to his son.

“I always start with an idea – Achille Castiglioni said in the 1980s – and then I modify it and develop it as I go along. There is a lot of model making in my work, also because I am the son of a sculptor and I always saw my father working with his hands, shaping material to gradually give it the desired form.”

A gift inherited from his father Giannino, seen here in a series of photographs as he works on sculpting sacred figures. From him, Achille Castiglioni learned the sense of material, on both the most grand and the most modest scales. An ability to think about material as others have thought about color, music, poetry.

De Padova wanted to start here, to narrate the world of Achille Castiglioni, also through a wide selection of videos and photographic materials. To investigate the secret of the “Castliglioni Effect”, that magic that makes his installations, including the unforgettable designs for the windows of the showroom on Corso Venezia, still innovative, contemporary and unique today.

Among the twenty-three models, the show at Corso Venezia will also include two of the so-called “mystery” maquettes: projects without a name or a date, conserved at the Studio Museo Achille Castiglioni of the Triennale Design Museum, and still awaiting an explanation. Visitors to the show are urged to supply any clues for possible identification: maybe someone knows who commissioned the projects? Or remembers where, and how? The search is on for clues, perhaps with surprising effects.

The exhibition will welcome visitors at the entrance to the De Padova showroom and lead them to the first floor. There, applying the lesson of Achille Castiglioni, over 400 sq meters set the multimedia stage for the maquettes, with projections on ethereal surfaces, portraits, interviews.

“It is a pleasure to communicate the content of an exhibition, to make it understood – Achille Castiglioni said. – It is a difficult thing, but it allows you to do experiments, while in architectural projects you can’t take chances, you have to respond to very precise needs, at times to the detriment of expressive values. In installations that last fifteen days you can try out materials, routes, lighting effects. If you make a mistake, it’s no big deal: you just lose a client”.

The long friendship between De Padova and Achille Castiglioni was consolidated in the mid-1980s, when Maddalena De Padova decided to develop a collection of furnishings for the home and office, and called on Vico Magistretti and Achille Castiglioni to design it. The resulting products were unique and extraordinary, creating a strong identity for the De Padova brand in Italy and abroad, and becoming part of the history of Italian Design."

As always, you can click any image to see a larger version.
Below pictures of the models from the exhibition.

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