Form And Fun-ction - The Design Of Achille Castiglioni

 

In our Flos sale tomorrow, we’re selling some of the world’s most iconic lights. Tiffany Jow explores the mind of the man behind them.  

 

image

Castiglioni with the chandelier Taraxacum 88, designed 1988 for Flos.


“There has to be irony in both design and in the objects,” industrial designer Achille Castiglioni once said. “I see around me a professional disease of taking everything too seriously. One of my secrets is to joke all the time.” The witty Milan-born talent, who is often deemed one of the most important designers of the 20th century, expressed his sense of the absurd by using familiar objects in unexpected contexts, such as placing a tractor seat atop a stool or use a car reflector as a light. The result was stunning minimalist creations that exhibit an ironic sense of humor, technical skill, and thoughtful, practical forms.

image

Mezzadro, designed 1957 for Zanotti.

Though he passed away in 2002, his distinctive work lives on. Today, we celebrate Castiglioni’s purist yet playful style with a collection of pieces he’s best known for: the pendants and lamps for famed Italian lighting outfit FLOS. There’s his curious Aoy lamp, a hand-blown glass vessel with a foot-wide opening at its bottom for a cat to crawl inside, and the skinny, streetlight-inspired Arco floor lamp. He modeled his Brera S pendant after an ostrich egg, made his Frisbi pendant look like a flying saucer, and took note from George Nelson’s wire-framed, resin-covered lights to make his Gatto table lamp, where a cocoon-like membrane serves as its diffuser.

image

Brera, designed 1962 for FLOS by Achille Castiglioni.

Many of these lights were designed with Castiglioni’s elder brother, Pier Giacomo, with whom he worked (alongside his other sibling, Livio) after graduating from Politecnico di Milano in 1944. Three years later, he joined the organizing committee of the Milan Triennale, and helped establish the esteemed Compasso d’Oro award (he was honored with eight himself) and the Italian Association of Industrial Design.

image

Taraxacum, designed 1960 for FLOS by Achille Castiglioni.

Near the end of his long career, as a professor at his alma mater, one of his students was Paola Antonelli, who’s now MoMA’s senior design curator. She fondly remembers him arriving to class each day with what she describes as “a large Mary Poppins-like black bag from which he would extract and line up on the table that day’s chosen pieces from his stupendous collection of found objects: toys made from beer cans, odd eyeglasses, wooden stools from Aspen, small suction cups strong enough to lift a table. These were the most effective tools of design instruction.” Castiglioni’s genius stemmed from his focus on things that so many designers are quick to overlook: the everyday things right in front of us. And his sense of humor made these objects live forever. 

Tiffany Jow

If you want to see more stunning Castiglioni lamps, check out our Flos sale. 

All images courtesy Studio Museo Achille Castiglioni. 

From Emmy Rossum With Love

image

We’re super-excited about Fiona Gallagher, oops, Emmy Rossum’s special sale with us!  We’re featuring her lovely new album, and she has curated a selection of her favorite Fab items. She also wrote this note to tell us more about her picks. 

Hi there! 

I hope you like my Fab picks. These are all items I love and have hand selected. From vintage feeling necklaces (love the mini camera pendant!) to fun things for your kitchen (a sculpture of spices and delicious drink syrups in pretty bottles), these are all items that fit perfectly in my home and my life. There’s a sweet tote that reminds me of New York, cute T-shirts to run around and do errands in, and cool brooches to dress up a sweater or wear on the red carpet as a hair ornament. And there’s even heart-shaped cookware that’s sure to please the object of your affection on Valentine’s Day! The butterfly globe adds a light and airy touch to home decor, and makes thinking about travel that much more fun. Be sure to check out the fun cocktail shaker, which will be put to use making retro cocktails at your next dinner party. You can even turn on Sentimental Journey while you’re entertaining your guests! 

xoxo

Emmy

Want a little more Emmy Rossum in your life? To get her curated Fab picks and new album, check out her special Fab sale.

Fab In Real Life - Jeff Jordan Edition

image

We love to see design objects from Fab out and about in the world. (Plus, we’re also snoopy and like to check out other people’s spaces.)  So imagine our delight this morning when we came across this LinkedIn article about our friend and investor Jeff Jordan’s office. Jeff says: “As you can see, I love light and color. Almost all of the artwork and interesting knickknacks in my office came from Fab.com.”

Mr. Jordan will always have a special place in the hearts of Fab employees, because on the day that Andreessen Horowitz’s investment was announced, he bought the whole office an amazing barbecue lunch. And cake! Clearly, this man has great taste. 

Express Yourself: Fab Bathroom Style

image

If you paint a ladies’ restroom with chalkboard paint and you provide these ladies with chalk, you’re going to see some art. (At least once they catch on to the fact that the black walls are actually chalkboard. After eight months of stark minimalism, our restroom turned into a 80s subway car within one afternoon.)  It might not meet Fab’s design standards, but it meets our standards, so there’s that. 

Read more