14 April 2016
Contemporary design was born in 1957. The claim might seem a capricious one to those unfamiliar with the project that Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni came up with for the exhibition Colors and Forms in Today’s Home, staged that year at Villa Olmo, in Como—a historic event that also involved, among others, Ico Parisi, Gio Ponti, Bruno Munari, Franco Albini, Angelo Mangiarotti, Marco Zanuso, Cini Boeri and Enzo Mari. It marked the beginning of a reflection on domestic interior design that continues to this day, to the point of being the theme of one of the principal exhibitions of the new Triennale: Rooms. Novel Living Concepts, curated by Beppe Finessi. It was then that the Castiglioni brothers presented a “Living Space” that provided the setting for the legendary Mezzadro stool, a salad drainer, a milking seat, a hanging television set and a work by Giuseppe Ajmone. In doing so they were making a statement about design: the new designer invents solutions, but at the same time selects objects already in existence in order to reinvent them through a change of context and a functional connection. The only things that are never betrayed are “curiosity, affection and fun,” said the great Achille. And in this freedom of vision value often has nothing to do with price. Cost is just one of the variables to be considered, and not necessarily the most decisive. The Castiglioni brothers’ project has now been faithfully reproduced at the Fondazione Achille Castiglioni on piazza Castello for the exhibition Domestic Dimension. What makes their “Living Space” still relevant today is its identification of some of the elements on which contemporary design is founded: the coexistence of designer objects and anonymous ones, harmony between the genres, multifunctionality and the collaboration between art and industrial design. This is why it can be considered a piece of our history, and a useful reminder that to invent a new way of living it is not necessary to design something completely new: often all it takes is to look around you and make intelligent choices.
Curated by Beppe Finessi
Fondazione Achille Castiglioni, Milan
February 17 – October 30