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Livio, Pier Giacomo and Achille Castiglioni

The adjustable table light below called the Gibigiana was designed by the Italian lighting designer Achille Castiglioni who was born in 1918. He was the eldest of three brothers.

The light is adjustable and produces a reflected light, which incorporates a dimmer. The shape of the table light suggests a natural formation such as a bird or an animal. The light uses a halogen bulb that reflects light off a mirror and concentrates it onto a particular spot. The light's Italian name Gibigiana means 'expression for light reflected from a surface'.

The angle of deflection is controlled by a circular dial on the top or head of the lamp. The intensity or brightness of the light is controlled by a lever, which runs up and down the base.

Some people have suggested that the lamp has a quirky appearance but it has been made to high specifications and has a high quality of finish. The lamp has a modern, stylish, functional appearance.

Castiglioni, the son of a classical sculptor, studied architecture at the Milan Polytechnic. In 1938 Castiglioni and Pier Giacoma set up a studio together designing cutlery made from silver and aluminium.

As well as the cutlery one of their most successful designs was the Phonola in 1939. This was the first Italian radio made from one of the first types of plastics called Bakelite. Previous to this most Italian radios had been cased in wooden boxes. The design was awarded a gold medal at the VII Milan Triennale of 1940.

From 1940 until 1960 Livio worked as a design consultant whilst at the same time working with his younger brother on other lighting projects. Livio and Gianfranco Frattini worked together to create the snakelike Boalum designed in 1970.

After they graduated from the Milan Polytechnic both Livio and Achille worked together during the post war years. They undertook town and country planning and architectural commissions as well as product design and exhibition design.

The brothers were very productive and when Livio left the partnership in 1952 the other two brothers worked together until Pier Giacomo's death in 1968.

Amongst other achievements they deigned their 'ready made' designs in 1957 -the Mezzadro (Sharecroppers Stool), which incorporated a tractor seat and the Sgabello per Telephono (Telephone Stool), which incorporated a bicycle seat.

Other lighting systems created by Pier Giacommo and Achille Castiglionni included the Tubino desk lamp (1951), the Luminator floor lamp (1955), the Arco floor lamp (1962) and the Taccia table lamp (1962).

After Pier Giacomo's death Achille continued to work in industrial design. Before his death Pier taught at the Milan Polytechnic and Achille took on the position of acting professor of artistic industrial design from 1970 until 1977. He also became professor of interior architecture and design from 1977 to 1980 at the Polytechnic of Torino. From 1981 until 1986 Achille became professor of interior design at the polytechnic of Milan and then professor of industrial design there.

Throughout his career Achille was honoured with lots of a design awards and design prizes. The style of his and his brothers work has been described as Rationalism but at the same time possessing humour and a sculptural form.

Achille Castiglioni is one of the most important Italian designers of the twentieth century.

 

 

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