Celebrating CENTO3, Italian designer Achille Castiglioni’s last project

An accidental discovery made by Castiglioni’s sons, the writing instruments were realised by a three-part collaboration between EGO.M, Fondazione Achille Castiglioni, and Gianfranco Cavaglià.

by STIRworldPublished on : Feb 16, 2022

The story of Italian architect and designer Achille Castiglioni's last design began with a chance discovery his sons Giovanna and Carlo Castiglioni made in their father’s Milan studio. Hidden behind the big angular mirror were the prototypes for an unpublished project by Castiglioni, perhaps the last of his career, and co-signed by architect Gianfranco Cavaglià were the writing instruments. Castiglioni’s home has been the headquarters of the Fondazione Achille Castiglioni since 2012. The wooden prototypes, made by cabinetmaker Pierluigi Ghianda, replicate the trilobate arched shape studied by Castiglioni and Cavaglià. Featuring a distinctively ergonomic form, the design is meant to represent a true alliance between mind, hand and object, with the added benefit of not rolling on a table. Cavaglià recalled this particular aspect as "seemed of some interest to us". The collection was given the name CENTO3.

CENTO3.G pocket fountain pen | Cento3 by Achille Castiglioni | EGO.M | STIRworld
CENTO3.G pocket fountain pen Image: Courtesy of EGO.M

Left in a drawer for years, the design was realised by Italian design studio EGO.M. Entrusted with the development, engineering and production of the project, the project was first announced on Castiglioni’s 103rd birthday on February 16, 2021. Aware of the gravity of the responsibility, the team collaborated with Cavaglià to understand the basics of the project, its ethos and the original intentions of the writing instruments. After a careful analysis of the wooden prototypes and project drawings, three instruments were selected for production - a mechanical pencil, a multifunctional art pencil and a pocket fountain pen. Each of the selected instruments aligned with a precise vision for the project. The mechanical pencil represents the technical drawing, the multifunctional art pencil is practical, handy and appropriate for many uses while the fountain pen has been deliberately chosen in a pocket version to be more contemporary, unconventional and closer to the younger generations.

Three pieces of CENTO3 | Cento3 by Achille Castiglioni | EGO.M | STIRworld
Three pieces of CENTO3 Image: Courtesy of EGO.M

The instruments were created using a fused deposition modelling (FDM) 3D printing technique. This particular method was selected for production, because of its versatility that allows for the production of more unique forms. The 3D printing process allows the printer to deposit material only where necessary, realising the project without any waste. In this process, the material used, an aspect which was very important to the architects Castiglioni and Cavaglià, is paramount. Graphene seemed to be the right choice because of its mechanical properties, colour and finish. Graphene is composed of a monoatomic layer of carbon and graphite and the collaborator found the concept of a pencil made of a pencil interesting.

CENTO3 in graphene and their corresponding non-functional wooden prototypes, 3 tips 3 writings | Cento3 by Achille Castiglioni | EGO.M | STIRworld
CENTO3 in graphene and their corresponding non-functional wooden prototypes, 3 tips 3 writings Image: Courtesy of EGO.M

Layered 3D printing leaves behind a texture on the objects. The collaborator viewed this as a trace that represents the value, and authenticity of the production process. In addition to being smooth to the touch, the instruments also have a knurled grip that allows for more comfort. Cavaglià said, “With architect Castiglioni, we considered an absolutely positive feature for a writing instrument." With this production technique, every piece is realised individually, gaining the moniker industrial craftsmanship.

CENTO3 in graphene and non-functional wooden prototypes | Cento3 by Achille Castiglioni | EGO.M | STIRworld
CENTO3 in graphene and non-functional wooden prototypes Image: Courtesy of EGO.M

The name CENTO3 was a strategic selection that reflects the study and research put into realising the project. Castiglioni believed that “even naming objects is an act of design”, and as a result, the title for this collection reflects the same; three designed objects and their respective writing typologies, the 3D production technology, three project partners – EGO.M, Fondazione Achille Castiglioni, Gianfranco Cavaglià, the involvement of three generations, the three fingers that hold the writing instrument, and the three arches of the trilobate shape. CENTO3 (HUNDRED3) also reflects the fact that the project was announced three years past Castiglioni’s centennial.

CENTO3.E multifunctional art pencil | Cento3 by Achille Castiglioni | EGO.M | STIRworld
CENTO3.E multifunctional art pencil Image: Courtesy of EGO.M

Project Details

Name: CENTO3
Location: Milan, and Bologna, Italy
Year: 2021
Design team: Achille Castiglioni, Gianfranco Cavaglià, EGO.M
Producer: EGO.M

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