Achille Castiglioni

Lighting: is the form-function relationship still valid?

Are the teachings of the great masters of design still relevant?
This is what Giulio Cappellini and Lisa Marchesi wondered about at Icone Talks.

According to Achille Castiglioni (1918-2002), the Milanese architect and designer, form derives from a problem of function resolved with coherence and simplicity. Form thus becomes itself a function, a manifestation that we encounter in space and that cannot be separated from the purpose for which it is used.

Can we still consider one of the great architect’s great legacies as valid? Giulio Cappellini, art director of Icone, asked Lighting Designer Lisa Marchesi in a new episode of Icone Talks, the “social conversation” on the world of lighting and interior design.

Lisa Marchesi. I think it’s still valid, for me it’s the basis of design because a form without a functionality is just a drawing, it becomes an art installation, an abstract concept.

Shape, what a nice function”.
-Achille Castiglioni

I was brought up at the Milan Polytechnic, so I have a very technical background, so I cannot separate the two things. For me, a form must have a function, and this also applies to lighting: when I design light, I obviously already know what I have to achieve, I know that I have to make a certain installation, that I have to obtain a certain amount of light and from there I start to create my form.

This is also true for products: if I have to design a luminaire, I start from the light effect, for example a particular effect such as the “wall washer”, then I create, I study mathematically the photometric curve, I draw it with calculations, trigonometry and all that is needed, I make the reflector and once I study the reflector then I create the body of the lamp. The shape then is the last piece, I started with the function though.

Giulio Cappellini. I agree, the old school still has a lot to say. Great masters like Castiglioni, Sottsass, Magistretti and many others have paved the way and taught us, and you Lisa are a demonstration of this, that it is essential to work with great professionalism, always questioning himself, without thinking of having achieved all the goals.

Watch the full version of this episode of Icone Talks, and past ones, on IGTV’s Instagram channel @icone.luce


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