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The Sella Exhibition

The “Sella Exhibition” is an interactive 1950’s style telephone booth that engages users by informing and narrating the story of Achille Castiglioni and his designs through the iconic chair, “Sella".

This experience emphasizes the importance of Achille Castiglioni's design methods by highlighting the importance of the Sella in the Italian culture and creating a physical vs digital one-on-one engagement of two diverse worlds.

Project Brief: To create a traveling exhibition that tells the story of the Sella chair and therefore creates awareness to the museum.

This project was part of a workshop between Domus Academy students, DotDotDot and Fondazione Achille Castiglioni.

Business Designers -  Ezegbebe Eribo &  Darathorn Titatan 

Product Designer - Kevin Tian

Interior Designer -   Jyothsna Joshi 

Interaction Designers - Olivia Lucas & Monica Calmet

Visual Designer - Monica Calmet

Team Leader -  Monica Calmet

The Research

Achille Castiglioni (1918-2002) was an architect and designer (furniture, lighting, accessories) whose methodology was an approach to design with an eye to innovate and redefine product and product experiences. By analyzing and understanding the principles of an original product; questioning both its aesthetics and functioning, he could then identify major areas where he could innovate and add value and thus redesigned and produced a new and improved product. 


The small museum aims to promote culture and art (specifically design and architecture) as explored by Achille. The museum brings international acknowledgment to the name Achille Castiglioni, to his knowledge of Italian design and to his creations and design methodology. Currently, the museum lacks awareness of the history behind Achille's objects, so our team was asked to develop a traveling exhibition for one design: The Sella.


The Sella is a chair designed by Achille and his brother Giacomo in 1957. Achille gets inspiration from his love for bicycling and creates a unique experience for answering the telephone. The result is a mono-poled chair that features a leather bicycle seat, a tubular pole and a rounded base made of cast-iron. Using the telephone with the Sella reduced talk time (which in turn reduced the expensive call costs of the period), due to the Sella’s uncomfortable seating nature. The Sella itself was inspired by ‘the milking stool’ (of anonymous origin and unknown designer), which is a flat rounded wooden piece that becomes a seat affixed to a single wooden leg. This makes it a furniture piece that is easily used by farmers while milking cows. The ingenuousness of the milking stool is also adapted to the Sella, in the sense that the user participates in creating the seat balance with his/her legs. 

The Concept

After a week of brainstorming and researching, our team identified the main problems and began to address them. Some of the main problems were the limited space, lack of awareness of the designer / products and the acknowledgement of the museum.

The concept of the “Sella Exhibition” is to create awareness of the Achille Castiglioni Fondazione through an interactive 1950’s style telephone booth that engages users by informing and narrating the story of Achille Castiglioni and his designs through the object of the “Sella”. 

Project Details

The exhibition is designed as a contemporary experience, yet inspired by the 1950’s era style. It is designed as a three-paneled telephone booth that has four interactive sides. The main experience is the front side of the booth. Here, the user gets to interact with a digital woman from the 1950's who tells the story of the Sella chair through the use of an old rotary phone. 

On the two exterior sides of the booth, visitors can find more information on Achille and the Fondazione, while the back of the telephone booth has a fun and light-hearted interaction; a face-projection of the visitor projected on to a body of a famous person from the 1950’s. 





The front side experience is based on the “Sella” story.

A series of videos will play to obtain the attention of the user that passes by the booth, and thus is tempted to approach and enter the space to experience the Sella story. 

Once the user enters the booth, with the use of a sensor, a video will be triggered to show a 1950’s woman entering the scene and starting a phone call. The physical phone will start to ring provoking the user to answer the phone. As the visitor answers, a digital woman and the physical visitor will start a conversation about the Sella and Achille Castiglioni. The visitor will be given the chance to personalize his or her experience by exploring more content through the dial of certain options that unlocks further information.

The Prototype

To better explain the experience of the front of the booth, our team prototyped the space using technologies like an Arduino, a Kinect, a TV monitor and a computer. The final prototype was successfully completed after one week of coding and designing! 

We used an old rotary phone and with the use of the Arduino and Processing Software, we could control the video selection and the audio with the dials.

For coding purposes, Olivia and I built a small user flow to understand how to code the main user experience. We both worked together using our Java Script skills and coded the Arduino for the phone dial, then coded the Processing software for the video dial selection as well as the Kinect sensor coding.


We also got inspired to brand the Sella Chair with a combination of Achille Castiglioni's design philosophy and the Fondazione’s style.

Photo credit: Michele Aquila

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