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The Sweet Story Behind These Classic Shape-Shifting Shelves

The venerated Italian designer Achille Castiglioni (1918–2002) is known for elegant creations infused with a bit of wit and a healthy respect for common objects. For example the Mezzadro stool, one of his most famous pieces, is based on a tractor seat. Throughout his prolific career, he produced lighting, furniture, utensils, and much more, in addition to being a respected industrial design professor.


This year, the luxe furniture brand Zanotta reissued his Joy bookcase, originally from 1989, in a deep burgundy or teal hue. You can swing out shelves, which are set on a central axis, to offer storage when you need it and tuck them back in when you don’t.

Clever as the piece is for its space-saving merits, it references one of Castiglioni’s earlier inventions in form. It was a multi-purpose bench and stool he originally designed for his young daughter so they could see eye-to-eye, as equals, when sitting together—a very democratic notion and one that surely made a child feel as important as one of the grown-ups. Both feature L-shaped constructions that pivot along a post, but that’s where the similarities end: the bookcases are a decidedly un-democratic $3,500 for a five-shelf version and $5,300 seven-shelf option; both are available from DDC.

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