Architects and designers rally to save Milan’s Fondazione Achille Castiglioni

The legendary Fondazione Achille Castiglioni, set in the architect’s former studio in Milan, is at risk of closing: sign the petition

Fondazione Achille Castiglioni
(Image credit: Courtesy Fondazione Achille Castiglioni)

Milan's Fondazione Achille Castiglioni is at risk of closing. It has been 61 years since Achille Castiglioni set up his studio with brother Pier Giacomo in Milan's Piazza Castello 27. From the studio, the pair created some of the most recognised and beloved pieces of contemporary design, including several lighting designs for Flos (such as the iconic ‘Arco’) and inventive furniture such as the ‘Mezzadro’ and ‘Sella’ stool for Zanotta, respectively made from a humble tractor seat and bike saddle on a pole. 

Since Castiglioni’s death in 2002, his daughter and son, Giovanna and Carlo, have taken over the studio, leaving its interiors as their father left them and transforming them into the Fondazione Achille Castiglioni, a space to preserve the architect’s work but also a museum for people to discover his illuminated design approach. 

‘In the 20 years of the foundation's activity, over 80,000 visitors have passed through these premises and were able to see this study and listen to our stories,’ say Giovanna and Carlo. ‘In this place, we have told the activity of our father and his brothers, but above all, we shared the design process of the objects they made history and brought Italian design within everyone's reach. We have given our visitors the tools to enter the world of the Castiglioni and being part of it, we led them with grace and irony to get closer to projects by looking at them, touching them, using them.’

Fondazione Castiglioni at risk of closing

Fondazione Achille Castiglioni

(Image credit: Courtesy Fondazione Achille Castiglioni)

The building’s owners have now asked the foundation to vacate the property, with the risk of destroying a crucial space in the history of Italian design. A petition, led by architect Pierluigi Masini, is hoping to reverse the decision, while the foundation is in discussion with local government bodies to find a solution.

‘Many of the visitors and friends of the Achille Castiglioni Foundation have guaranteed us their support and help, and perhaps the time has come to do a great lavoro collettivo (collective work), as Achille would have called it, many people and skills working together to give new life to the Achille Castiglioni Foundation, whether in its historic location, or even in a new structure,' continue Giovanna and Carlo.

Fondazione Achille Castiglioni interior with bookshelves

(Image credit: Courtesy Fondazione Achille Castiglioni)

The petition was first brought to Wallpaper's attention by architect and Triennale Milano president Stefano Boeri. 'The Fondazione Castiglioni represents not only the works of Achille Castiglioni and his brothers, but it represents the extraordinary generation of a unique place in the world, where Achille Castiglioni worked, imagining and creating extraordinary pieces that have made the history of international design,' he told us. 'Milan, Italy and the world cannot afford to lose that place, which is not simply a space, but an extraordinary work of art in itself.

'At Triennale we have supported the Fondazione Castiglioni and the studio museum of its headquarters from the very beginning, and we will continue to do so with great conviction, with the intention of strengthening this network that represents one of the most extraordinary resources in Milan and contemporary Italy.'

Fondazione Achille Castiglioni interior with display tables and shelves

(Image credit: Courtesy Fondazione Achille Castiglioni)

At the moment of writing, the petition has reached more than 4,500 signatures, with members of the design community also spreading the word and coming together to save the foundation. ‘I believe the foundation is an important part of Italy’s and design’s cultural heritage and needs to remain in its original location,’ Jasper Morrison wrote on his social media channels as he urged people to sign.

‘Achille Castiglioni isn’t only a great designer,’ adds Patricia Urquiola, who worked with the architect in the early days of her career. ‘His mind goes further, his projects defy time, his words are a path to be followed. Now. Always. Forever.’

Sign the petition to save the Fondazione Achille Castiglioni

Fondazione Achille Castiglioni
Piazza Castello, 27
20121 Milano

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.