Achille Castiglioni, the Italian maestro who transformed the mundane into the magnificent and influenced a postwar shift in the creative narrative, will forever have a place as a giant of 20th-century design. His legacy is the plethora of classics we all know and love – from his Arco lamp for Flos to the Mezzadro tractor stool for Zanotta – while his rigour and irreverent humour had such a synergy with Italian homeware brand Alessi, it resulted in a collaboration that lasted 30 years and produced everything from cutlery to clocks and ashtrays. In honour of this partnership and to celebrate the centenary of Castiglioni’s birth, Alessi has produced a limited edition version of the designer’s AC04 bowl – 999 centenary vessels will be available from mid-April.
The AC04 is an elegant foot-mounted fruit bowl containing a removable colander that was designed for Alessi in the mid-1990s. Functional yet sculptural – it has more than a hint of the chalice about it – the design is classic Castiglioni in that it fuses two everyday household objects into one beautiful yet useful piece; back in 1995, it prompted the Conseil National des Artes Culinaires de Paris to name Castiglioni Young Creator of the Year. The fact that he was aged 77 at the time shows just how far ahead of the design pack he had become.
Castiglioni’s original design was made from solid 18/10 stainless steel. The new editions (£312 each) are crafted from the same material but finished in highly polished copper, ensuring that each numbered piece becomes as much jewel as household object. True to the designer’s values, the PVD finish is hard-wearing, scratch and corrosion resistant.
But would Castiglioni approve of this shiny new iteration? Alberto Alessi believes so: “I am reminded of something he used to say: ‘Cinq ghei pü sè, ma luster,’ it means five lire more, but perfectly polished!”