The Achille Castiglioni Toio Lamp.

Within the many famous Italian mid-century modern designs, the Achille Castiglioni Toio Lamp has undoubtedly a primary role.

Even though Achille was the most known of the Castiglioni brothers, he worked closely with his older brother Pier Giacomo to many projects until his premature death in 1968; both concentrating on the same task, rather than dividing up the work.

The Achille Castiglioni Toio lamp was designed in 1962. The philosophy behind this extendable lamp – borrowing a Dadaist’s concept- was to design industrial products starting from found objects as main elements.

This design approach was also a way to differentiate their products from the extremely modern look of the of the Italian mid century designs.

The Achille Castiglioni Toio lamp is a clever and meaningful example of how wit and paradoxical was the Castiglionis’ design. The lamp is indeed made of a 300-watt car reflector bulb, attached to a metal stem that is weighted by the transformer at the bas pedestal. The electrical wire is pinned to the stem by fishing-rod screws.

As the Sella and the Mezzadro stools, the Achille Castiglioni Toio lamp elements are everyday objects; to prove that good design can be achieved starting from the minimum of intervention on everyday objects.

(pics via

During the mid century, Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni developed an unique and wit design with an industrial and functional look that had its origins in the Italian Rationalist movement.

They experimented a lot -specially with lightnings- to accomplish designs with a strong awareness of the user starting from minimum means .

The final result had to be an appealing product pleasant to use as to look at: in line with most of the mid century designs. No wonders that many of their works -like the Arco or the Luminator lamps as the Toio itself- are featured in the permanent collections of important museums like the MOMA in New York or the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Today the Achille Castiglioni Toio lamp is still manufactured by Flos as many of the his works that become mid century design icons.

To discover more about Achille Castiglioni, check also his biography in the People in Design section.


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