The partnership between Italian industrial designer brothers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni is an instrumental one in Italian modern design. Achille Castiglioni set up a design office with his brothers. He also went on to teach at Politecnico di Milano University, where he himself studied architecture. The Castiglioni brothers helped establish the prestigious world design fair, the Milan Triennale, as well as the Compasso d'Oro awards. Achille Castiglioni’s design classics also belong to the permanent collection housed in New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
Achille Castiglioni derived inspiration from ordinary, everyday things and materials to innovate form, function and production process. This extended to even utilizing them in the found object art genre, such as in his Sella stool that utilized a bicycle seat and his Mezzadro stool, which incorporated a ready-made tractor seat. Castiglioni’s oft-quoted design philosophy is “Start from scratch. Stick to common sense. Know your goals and means.”
The Castiglionis designed the dramatic Arco Floor Lamp (1962; Kristal Lamp) with a street light as inspiration. As such, the Arco Floor Lamp has quite an expressive romantic feel to it with its overhead lighting and opulent marble base: a combination of natural and man-made materials to achieve a striking and polished modern silhouette. It is able to arc over and illuminate a sofa or dining table, making it both decorative and practical with an slim, adjustable arc and swivelling shade to further refine the lighting control.
The Arco Floor Lamp has shared onscreen space with Sean Connery in the movie Diamonds are Forever. It also made an appearance in the movie The Italian Job.
An interesting, almost quaint, fact about the Castiglionis’ iconic Arco Floor Lamp is that it is designed with a hole in its base for a broom handle to enable two people to lift and carry the heavy lamp with its marble base.