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Radiogram by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni

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Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Castiglioni is a name surely synonymous with “cool”?!

Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni designed this radiogram for Brionvega in 1966. It was based on their approach that design must restructure an object’s function, form and production process and following this led them to reinvent all the products they were commissioned to design. This didn’t stop their products being fun, however – the designers of familiar icons such as the arching ‘Arco’ lamp and the tractor-seat stool ‘Mezzadro’ gave their design a playful, yet stylish form and mix of materials. For example, the RR 126 radiogram, which has just gone on display at the Powerhouse Museum as part of Sydney Design 2010 and the upcoming guest lecture to be presented by Achille’s daughter, Giovanna, exudes high-tech and superb quality, while at the same time smiling at its observers through its playfully arranged dials and knobs, which form a face. The speakers can be easily hung on the sides of the body (as displayed in the photo here) or the generous wiring allowed them to be placed elsewhere on the floor to best suit the listener. The original white colour has mellowed to a cream, but the original contrast with the brown ‘seams’ on the edges still shows the original intent.

The brothers’ imaginative and uncompromising approach to design has made them a powerful and influential force in design and their products are represented in museum collections all over the world. In particular, their incorporation of ready-made utility items such as a tractor-seat, bicycle seat or car headlight lent their work a thought-provoking air of the subversive artist, such as Marcel Duchamp. Philosophical maybe, but while considering our surroundings – listening to 60’s LPs, or standing on the set of a James Bond movie, there’s no doubt about it – this radiogram is groo-vy baby!

You can read more about Achille Castiglioni and the breadth of his work on the Museum’s online design resource, D*Hub, here. The RR 126 Radiogram will be on display in the Museum during Sydney Design.