Kartell

Creativity and technology, glamour and functionality, quality and innovation: an extraordinary combination of factors which combined with its strategic vision of distribution has contributed to ensuring Kartell's success worldwide. A leading design company, Kartell addresses an international public with a collection unique for its originality, variety and breadth of range. With its more than 60 years of history masterfully told by its products which express the language and the atmosphere of the times in which they were created, these products are at the same time contemporary objects that bring with them many other values and messages. All this has made Kartell products an integral part of the domestic scene.

They are polyfunctional and transversal, user-friendly and of indisputable aesthetic appeal. Colour, irony, a play on the senses, transparencies and unique forms for unique objects, the Kartell product is immediately recognisable all over the world for the emotions it arouses, its durable functionality and its incontestable quality. Continuing advances in the use of materials and experimentation with new technologies to discover previously unimagined properties are fundamental to Kartell product development, whether in seeking functional features or in developing new aesthetic characteristics. It is thanks to this continuing research that we now enjoy the satin finishes, transparency, flexibility, resistance to atmospheric pollutants, softness and that sense of touch in these products.

Kartell has long collaborated with world-famous designers such as Philippe Starck, Ron Arad, Mario Bellini, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Anna Castelli Ferrieri, Antonio Citterio, Michele De Lucchi, Patrick Jouin, Ferruccio Laviani, Piero Lissoni, Patricia Urquiola, Marcel Wanders, Tokujin Yoshioka, Vico Magistretti, Alberto Meda and Front. This creative team together with Kartell has created that special feeling through dialogue and the continual exchange of ideas on design to reach the perfect balance between the design experience of the individual designers and the potential and needs of the company.

The company business encompasses two sectors: LABWARE, laboratory equipment, and HABITAT dedicated to furniture, interior design items and lighting (the latter re-introduced successfully into the catalogue starting in 2000). Today Kartell exports 75% of its sales to 100 countries all over the world. Over its 60 years of activity, Kartell has garnered an enviable series of prestigious international honours including nine Compasso d'Oro awards and the award to the Kartell Museum by the Guggenheim Museum in 2000 as the "best corporate museum".

THE HISTORY

Founded in 1949 by Giulio Castelli, a young chemical engineer, who wanted to "produce objects with innovative features in the sense of applications of new production technology for economy of materials and efficiency in the process", Kartell began business producing auto accessories, household goods, lighting fixtures and laboratory ware and, when it opened its Habitat Sector in 1963, then furniture and interior design items. Right from the start Kartell has taken a wholly innovative approach to the design of its products based on technological research and design essential in tackling the design of plastic materials which, unlike natural materials, are devoid of any visible identity before being processed.

In 1988 just on the brink of his seventieth year, Giulio Castelli passed the helm to Claudio Luti who took over the trademark. Luti took a new look at the catalogue and with due respect for Kartell DNA, Luti concentrated his strategies on the product, promoting design research based on quality, stressing tactile perception and surface resonance and availing himself of the collaboration of the most famous international designers, first among whom was Philippe Starck. This fruitful partnership generated innovative forms and products thanks to Luti's pragmatism and entrepreneurial intuition and to the creative genius of the famous French designer. The fresh approach to materials determined a break and a turning point for Kartell: processing, manipulation and enhancement to produce a final product, albeit entirely made of plastic, took on connotations and modalities rather than formal and even different languages.

The turning point came in 1999 when after years of research and thanks to a revolutionary innovation, Kartell was the first company in the world to use polycarbonate in the production of interior design items. The result was the La Marie chair, a completely transparent chair of modern minimalist design. Henceforward, Kartell would develop and explore transparency which made it so unique and original, and would pursue research into the study of surfaces using new technologies and higher performance materials.

KARTELL – A COLLECTION 100% MADE IN ITALY

From its very beginnings, Kartell has been known for its industrial production of top quality design items made of plastic with high technological content and 100% MADE IN ITALY. Relying on its cutting-edge technology, its use of innovative and certified thermoplastic materials, often developed together with the best international producers, its production sites located throughout Italy in Piedmont, Lombardy, the Veneto and Emilia Romagna, the heartland of the national manufacturing culture, its automation of production processes which also ensure higher safety standards, and the involvement of the workers themselves in the "making" of the product, Kartell can guarantee to the users of its products a collection that has its DNA in its technology, its quality, its resistance and its long-wearing durability.

Company technicians follow all the production stages of Kartell products and ensure and check that the technology, industrial processes and quality are up to standard and work to reconcile the needs and expectations of the end user with the industrial processes used. It is the high degree of stability and repetitiveness in these processes that makes it possible to minimise inefficiencies and waste for productions with little polluting residues which are, in any case, recyclable. Kartell products do not rely only on their good looks. Their proven practicality and multifunctionality is constantly being put to the test and kept under supervision with strict and exacting reliability tests performed in compliance with specific UNI EN regulations.

THE RETAIL UNIVERSE

The Kartell sales points are élite places dedicated to communicating corporate philosophy together with the product while presenting the consumer public all over the world with its own special interpretation of home living needs. The single brand Kartell sales points are display spaces intended not only to show the customer the eclectic range of Kartell products but also to diffuse the brand identity and values - design, innovation, industrial production, versatility, glamour and vivacity.

Beginning in 1997 with the opening of its first flagship store in the brand's native city of Milan, Kartell's retail strategy proved to be the winning communication arm. Located on the shopping streets of the main cities throughout the world, the stores are neutral containers designed to best display, enhance and make desirable the products which are featured on large luminous platforms and in transparent display cases and which are the real and absolute protagonists with their colours, transparencies and immediately recognisable design. With its recent openings, Kartell can now boast a total of 120 flagship stores and 180 shop-in-shops. Another 3,000 multibrand sales points in 100 countries throughout the world must be added to these.

COMMUNICATIONS

The Kartell brand has revolutionised the design world and it has redesigned so many objects in daily use through the use of plastic that it is now consecrated as a veritable design label. The international interest in organising events around its history and the place it has won in the world of today speak eloquently of its success. This is the fruit of eclectic and intense communication efforts which went hand in hand with the international development of the distribution network. Kartell is the protagonist of exhibitions, stagings and events in the main cities throughoout the world.

To illustrate its history, Kartell has its own corporate museum hosted at its headquarters in Noviglio. Founded in 1999, the Kartell Museum presents over a thousand objects, catalogues and posters along its original display path. To narrate its present, Kartell relies heavily on communication through books, events, stagings and co-marketing activities. Among its publications, the kARTell book is an extraordinary collection of over 150 interpretations of Kartell products as seen through the eyes of famous photographers, contemporary artists and writers including Helmut Newton, David LaChapelle, Peter Lindbergh, Fabrizio Ferri, Bruce Weber, Maurizio Cattelan and Vanessa Beecroft, brought together in a special edition and produced with the contribution of Franca Sozzani, Editor of Vogue Italia. Kartell communicates above all through its products and its single brand stores located in the main cities throughout the world.
New display booths, more spectacular than ever, big and with strong visual impact, curated by Ferruccio Laviani each time reveal the design, research, innovation, new trends and results achieved.

Closely linked to the fashion world, 2007 Kartell kicked off the "Mademoiselle à la mode" project: the armchair designed by Philippe Starck was "dressed" by a series of the main Italian and international designer labels including Valentino, Dolce&Gabbana, Missoni, Moschino, Burberry, Etro, Gaultier and Lacroix. Another important step further into the world of fashion came in 2009 with the launch of the "Glue Cinderella" ballerina flats. The success of the first series spurred the company to broaden its footwear range, all made of plastic, of course, and to begin working in collaboration with Moschino with which it created the Bow-Wow line of ballerina flats.

KARTELL MUSEUM

The Kartell Museum was established in 1999 to celebrate Kartell's fifty years in business and to illustrate the extraordinary alliance between fashion and design. A container of 1000 objects designed by Anna Castelli Ferrieri and Ignazio Gardella, the Kartell Museum occupies about 2500 square metres in the building in Noviglio (Milan).
The original display path laid out by Ferruccio Laviani offers visitors an immediate reading: the collection is arranged in chronological order over three floors and within a synoptic table divided into the following categories: events, design, technology and communications. The legends tell the story of the company and introduce the most significant of its stages.

The first rooms are dedicated to the fifties and feature Giulio Castelli's totally new approach to technological research and renewed aesthetics in design. Reassured by a rich accumulation of awards including five Compasso d'Oro awards, in the sixties the company began production of a series of complex and advanced products and developed interior design items made of plastic. The seventies were characterised by a new interest in the work environment and in collective services and by the development of research in the systems field. In the eighties under the artistic direction of Anna Castelli Ferrieri, Kartell sought to reconcile industrial logic with a high tech approach while in the following decade Kartell enriched its collection thanks to the contribution of various international designers with whom it began collaboration. Thus objects were produced in response to new needs and seduced through their captivating design. The exhibition concludes with the big hits and best sellers of the last ten years which definitively confirm the brand as an international design leader which in its 60 years of history is distinguished by its central theme of constant technological and functional innovation.

In 2000, the Museum received the prestigious award from the Guggenheim for "best corporate museum" and its collections have been commanded and shown at the Centre Pompidou, the Kunsthalle in Bonn, at the Triennale in Milan and the MoMA in New York.

CLAUDIO LUTI - PRESIDENT

Claudio Luti was born in 1946 in Milan where he earned a degree in Economics and Business at the Catholic University.
After a short period of working for a well-known chartered accountants firm, in 1975 he struck out on his own and began collaborating with companies in the fashion world and with some stylists who went on to become world icons of Made in Italy. It was in '75 and '76, a time of great general fervour, that Milanese stylists, despite their small facilities and managerial capabilities, scented the potential for development of pret-à-porter fashion and business opportunities.

In 1977 Claudio Luti began working with Gianni Versace and after a short period as business consultant and manager, he became managing director of the company. He was to guide the Gianni Versace S.p.A. company brilliantly working closely for ten years with the famous stylist and assimilating his undisputed capabilities and proverbial drive.

In 1988 he left Versace and acquired Kartell, the company of which he is president. He came into the company at a time of temporary, perhaps physiological "tiredness" and within a few years was able to introduce technical and stylistic innovations and renew the catalogue. While respecting Kartell's "soul", its know-how and its winning industrial strategy, he grasped the need to pursue a different type of research into products and materials and contributed to freeing plastic of the connotation typical of the eighties of being a "cheap" material. He called upon the great names in international design, Philippe Starck first, and then Vico Magistretti, Ferruccio Laviani, Antonio Citterio and Ron Arad for their collaboration. Over the years he developed an impressive single brand distribution network which now extends throughout the world.

In December 2008 Luti was presented with the prestigious "Visionaries" career award by the Museum of Art and Design of New York. In June 2009 Claudio Luti and Kartell received the Japan Awards "Creating Value" prize.

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