The book review leads to creation 5 Achille Castiglioni: Designing as pursuit of freedom / A book review by designer Naoto Fukasawa

09.08.23

book_castiglioni

Achille Castiglioni: Designing as pursuit of freedom (only in Japanese version)
Author: Yosuke Taki (AXIS, ¥2,940)

A book review by designer Naoto Fukasawa

 

This is design!

At the beginning of this book, there is a line from Gianfranco Cavaglia’s introduction to Italo Calvino’s Why Read the Classics? (Perch Leggere i Classic) that says, “The classics are something that you’re re-reading even if you’re reading them for the first time.” When I read this I was struck by a vision in which I’m climbing a long and steep path step by step, running out of breath while I keep staring at the ground, and am not at leisure to look at the surrounding scenery. Suddenly somebody’s feet appear in my narrow field of view and I look up to find a mountain hermit standing in front of me who hasn’t even broken a sweat. It is Achille Castiglioni. He is smiling gently. Without giving so much as a single word of advice, he disappears slowly into the air. I look around wondering what it was all about, and notice that I’ve climbed quite a ways as my field of view expands. But as the summit is still far away, I start climbing again. I keep thinking about design with the tempo of my steps. The same phrase comes to my mind repeatedly. When I get tired and can’t think anymore, Castiglioni appears again.

There are times I think I’m merely climbing the path of design following the footsteps or guideposts left by Castiglioni. As I look at his anthology of works, I often notice that the many famous designs that I found exquisite were influenced by his works. Thinking that everybody has climbed the same path, a sense of empathy wells up inside me.

This is an excellent book. I’d like to pay my respects to its author Yosuke Taki for thoroughly studying Castiglioni and writing this book. This is quite a feat, because what this book unravels is the design itself and it sheds light on the ever so chaotic definition of design.

I find myself deep in contemplation when I hold this book. That image overlaps with the image of myself contemplating the completed philosophy and theory of the esthetics of use that once existed in Japan, and I think about how to retrieve it now that it has collapsed.

It’s packed so full of things that I couldn’t possibly explain it here in detail. You’ll just have to read it. I’m introducing a section from the book that is like the voice of heaven above.

As Castiglioni wrote in his Advices for Students in 1995, “Learn to observe with critical eyes, people’s natural behaviors, habitual and adaptive behaviors, and forms that people ordinarily don’t notice at all,” you should analyze the world in front of you, always examine things with a critical spirit, and, without being fooled by what is displayed before you, take a critical look at common objects and let them inspire you to find another way for them to exist. As the first step to this, having “curiosity” becomes the “tool” that is absolutely necessary to doubt the superficial obvious history and delve underneath it to understand the present.

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