...Thus the library of the House of Domus is today home to some of the most important archive material for the study of the (hi)story of furniture design in the contemporary Italy, recording and documenting as it does the rise and development of Stati and Popoli such as, and amongst many, many, others, the Cass Ina of Meda who rose from humble outfitters of simple sailing vessels to become one of the leading protagonists in the (hi)story of furniture design in Italy; the Azucena who had travelled from the dominion of Il Trovatore to Milan and where their reduced simplicity, a simplicity very much in contrast to the opulence of Il Trovatore under the rule of Conte Giuseppe Verdi, was greatly admired; the Arte Luce who once illuminated the commonwealth of Italy like a fuoco d’artificio but whose light has shone less profusely since their establishing of a union with the Illuminati di Flos; or the Castelli Kartell whose long-term Regista Anna Ferrieri demonstrated with astounding grace and simplicity that synthetic materials were both compatibile with Italian furniture design and allowed for componibili solutions...
Founded by chemist Giulio Castelli in 1949, from its beginnings the Italian design manufacturer Kartell has focussed on plastics: albeit originally car parts and not design objects. After extending the product range to include laboratory equipment and household utensils, furniture and lighting were added in the 1960s. Crucial to Kartell's development was the takeover of the company by Claudio Luti, Giulio and Anna Castelli's son-in-law, in 1988. Luti, who had been Managing Director at Versace for a decade, brought a new level of drive and vitality to Kartell and began extensive collaborations with international design greats such as Philippe Starck, Ron Arad, Antonio Citterio and Patricia Urquiola - product lines that still define Kartell.
Kartell products are created in collaboration with international designers such as Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Mario Bellini, or Marcel Wanders. These collaborations have proven to be fruitful and productive for designers and the company for decades and consistently produce innovative, futuristic products that explore the limits of plastic and design. And connections which are often very long-lasting, particularly in the case of Philippe Starck who has designed numerous Kartell seating furniture since the 1990s, including the iconic Kartell chair Louis Ghost. Patricia Urquiola, an internationally renowned Spanish designer, has also collaborated with Kartell several times and, in addition to seating, has designed items of everyday use for the Italian design manufacturer; while in context of Kartell lighting design Ferruccio Laviani is one of the brand's most important collaborators, having realised table lamps such as the Bourgie or Cindy for Kartell.
Legendary collections and successes
Kartell has been producing groundbreaking plastic designer furniture for more than 50 years and in that period has revolutionised design with futuristic shapes, ironic pop elements and intense colours. Over the years, numerous product lines have been created which have achieved legendary status and remain internationally successful. Anna Castelli Ferrieri, for example, is responsible for the iconic shelving units Componibili, while the Kartell Masters by Philippe Starck and Eugeni Quitllet is just one of several Kartell chairs that has made design history. Kartell has also won numerous international awards over the years, including the Compasso d’Oro nine times and in 2000 the Guggenheim Enterprise and Culture Award for the Kartell Museum.
Contemporary developments at Kartell
Kartell is now run by the third generation as a family business, and is run today by Claudio Luti, his daughter Lorenza and son Frederico. New product lines such as outdoor products have recently been launched and innovative developments in the fields of materials and process technologies are continuously promoted. In 2020 Kartell released three new environmentally friendly product lines, including their first chair made from 100 percent recycled material, the A.I. by Philippe Starck. The Kartell chair Smart Wood from 2019 belongs to the first product series of the manufacturer made of wood and is manufactured using innovative 3D technology. Innovations which help the company grow globally: in 2019 Kartell opened a flagship store in Tokyo, as well as staging extensive trade fair presentations in Moscow, Shanghai and Stockholm.
smow sells exclusively originals from licensed manufacturers and is an official trading partner of Kartell.
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Front An Anna; A Sofia; A Charlotte; A Katja; A Conduit. According to the sacred Köttbullar of Ikea, the quadruplets Anna af Front, Sofia af Front, Charlotte af Front and Katja af Front were born and raised on the island of Konstfack to the west of Stockholm,...
...And for all the interplay between the various galaxies, stars and energies that compose that universe: many of her product, lighting and furniture projects originating as they did in context of architecture, interior and theatrical commissions, including, for example, the injection moulded polyurethane 4794 armchair through Kartell which was originally designed for Fiat showrooms, and which, as with Stringa, celebrates the art of lounging, the loll; the wood and metal Rossini chair, designed in 1984 for Aulenti's scenography for Ronconi's production of Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims, and later taken on by Maxalto/B&B Italia; or the King Sun and Pipistrello lamps created for the Olivetti showrooms in Buenos Aires and Paris respectively...
...With an élan that resulted in an enviable portfolio of products that have not only become established design classics in their own right but which helped establish Italian manufacturer Kartell's reputation at the forefront of plastic research and design... As fate would have it, her husband Giulio Castelli had in 1949 established a small plastics company called Kartell...
On Monday September 5th the Universität der Künste Berlin designtransfer centre hosted a talk with the Italian designer, design critic, design linguist and, somewhat paradoxically, design disdainer, Enzo Mari. Preparing for the event we read page upon page...
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