The design of Castiglioni and marble

Il design dei Castiglioni e il marmo

Arco and Snoopy Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni bring marble to the Olympus of design, playing on the dynamics of ready-made and irony in the happiest historical period of Italian design.

By Giorgio Tartaro

If we were to think, with TV quiz dynamics, of a quick answer on the use of marble in design, perhaps the first to come up would be the work of the brilliant brothers Castiglioni, and precisely Snoopy and Arco for Flos. The use of marble in an industrial process that is able to confer uniqueness, for the very fact of being a natural block always equal in shape but different in veins and colors.

Marble has, for these two icons of Castiglioni, the primary function of the solid base, physical and visual, but it is much more.
In Arco (1962) – the lamp that revolutionized the world of lighting from above, free, hanging the illuminating body, working on direct and indirect light, on movement in space and flexibility of housing – the marble almost soft, thanks to the obvious, accentuated chamfer and ironic-functionality thanks to the obvious hole to insert a broom handle that can “comfortably” move it in the desired place is a solid foundation gracefully on the ground, almost architectural.

White, black, veined, gives the lamp a unique character.
The flexibility, the movement, the assembly of existing materials and solutions is an essential category for Castiglioni which in these two icons touches unreachable levels, also thanks to an allegorical disorientation. The use of a statuary material in a game of softness, quotation and flexibility perhaps until then has been unthinkable.
In Snoopy, a few years later (it is 1967 the homage to the Peanuts) the marble manages even to be ironic with uniqueness. The slight inclination of the marble cylinder recalls the science of Schultz’s ingenious dog, always fighting with philosophy and a violent “stupid cat” and ideally acts as a counterweight to the gentle nose/lampshade.

One important aspect of the design of these two lamps icon of the star system lamps is the use of marble, design is the wise “staircase” designed by Castiglioni. Imagine only different proportions or disproportions to drop a magical balance, falling back into the weight where you declare lightness, in the monumentality where you play with irony, in the coldness where light and heat, metaphorically, whisper to the world the exact opposite.

Great designers incessantly declare the allegorical process of the project: talking about other things through continuous reinterpretations of forms and functions, sometimes indulging on the unexpected, discarding the process, elevating technique and technology without necessarily making it a protagonist.

Arco and Snoopy, a few years later, are the clear proof of how knowledge and the gentle and conscious use of natural materials can deliver history two icons of light.
They are new icons of all Made in Italy design with worldwide reach, able to elevate the natural stone to a fundamental component of the creative process.

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