The designers of this Achille Castiglioni exhibition had a secret weapon
Italian designer Achille Castiglioni passed away in 2002 at the age of 84. Were he alive today to see the current exhibition in his honour at Seoul’s Hangaram Art Museum, he could rest assured his story is in good hands. After all, he trained the exhibition designers himself.
Running until 26 April, Achille Castiglioni and Brothers: Master of Italian Design was not only designed but also curated by Ico Migliore and Mara Servetto. The namesakes of Migliore + Servetto Architects were Castiglioni’s pupils at the Politecnico di Torino, then his assistants at the Politecnico di Milano. This closeness, they say, gave them the opportunity to share Castiglioni’s vision.
Spanning over 1,000-sq-m, the exhibition probes the private sides of Achille Castiglioni and his brothers, Livio and Pier Giacomo. The content delves into both their home and work lives within the concurrent cultural context of Italy. Migliore and Servetto wanted the curation to reflect the originality of the Castiglionis’ design vision and their impact on the global design scene.
Visitors are guided through five exhibition rooms, entering via BigBang Castiglioni, an introduction to the brothers’ world. Key facts and figures – Achille Castiglioni had a 58-year-long career, accumulated 67 awards and completed more than 1,000 projects, for instance – are presented as a series of colourful, overlapping graphic displays.
After learning about the brothers’ relationship to their Milanese context in room two, visitors pass through to the Creative Process space. Here, a scaffolding set-up is imagined as a Wunderkammer dedicated to the Castiglionis’ ways of working – a methodology rooted in experimentation, play and research. Migliore and Servetto recall their teacher always starting from ‘observation of the real, free from prejudice’. The Castiglionis would analyse ‘usage behaviours’ and reject ‘any pre-established images concerning the object and its function’.
The storyline progresses naturally, with the results of this creative process visible in the fourth room. As the room’s name, Icons, suggests, it’s a space filled with the Castiglionis’ most notable works: from lamps for Flos to home accessories for Alessi to furniture for Zanotta. The exhibition culminates with a metaphorical forest of printed tributes to Achille Castiglioni by international graphic designers.
‘The powerful lesson of the Castiglioni brothers is extraordinary in its modernity, and this exhibition wants to give it space and value,’ says a spokesperson for the studio. ‘It does so by making it accessible to a wide audience of students, architects and ordinary visitors, and by reserving areas for meetings and workshops, which can come to life thanks to the varied creativity of Achille Castiglioni and his brothers.’