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Achille Castiglioni: "Imagining Cutlery Designed for Italian Food"

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Achille Castiglioni: "Imagining Cutlery Designed for Italian Food"

“It takes a spoon with a proper capacity to eat an Italian soup or minestrone: a cutlery set inspired by our tradition and the pleasure of the table”: with these words, Achille Castiglioni, one of the masters of Italian design, described Dry, a dinner set in stainless steel mirror designed in 1982 for Alessi, the iconic design factory. More than 30 years after its debut, the flatware is shown in museums all over the world as well as still being produced.

The important thing is to consider the object’s function.
Achille Castiglioni

The starting principle is that cutlery is not to be held for long nor it needs to be shaped to the hand. The ergonomics of Dry are not in the handle, but in the part that comes in contact with food: “Chopsticks have been invented to eat small bites – stated Castiglioni – in Italy, we eat different kind of foods,  such as spaghetti and steaks. A knife has to be a resistant piece of steel with a long blade, a sort of scalpel to dissect food, a fork needs four prongs: otherwise it would be impossible to eat spaghetti”.

That’s why, in reaction to the functionalist approaches that characterize flatware design between 1950s and the 1970s, especially Scandinavian, Dry cutlery is a contemporary reinterpretation of the central and southern European tradition, particularly Italy's: a spoon with an ample bowl, a fork with four long prongs, a knife with a very long blade.

Born in 1918, in Milan, where he lived until his death in 2002, Achille Castiglioni was a founding member of ADI, the Italian Industrial Design Association: his work as a designer was a mixture of simplicity and irony, constant interested in the way objects are used, as demonstrated with Dry, the flatware.
The unprecedented parallelelpipedon shape of the handle is another peculiar trait of Castiglioni’s cutlery set.

As a result of an exhaustive study on flatware tradition, the bar is an homage to simplicity, rather than ergonomics: “Pencils for carpenters have a rectangular section – realized Castiglioni after grabbing and holding one in his hand – from an ergonomic point of view the clever idea is that neither spoon or knife are working tools, rather instead tools to eat, there is no need for a certain shap like for instance a screwdriver. More like a pencil that is used to draw”.
In 1983, Dry  won the XIVth Compasso d’Oro (Golden Compass), the most relevant and widely recognized Italian award for Industrial Design.


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