Kartell is among the most successful Italian light manufacturers and is famous for its lights, furniture and home accessories made of high-quality synthetic materials, usually in bright colours. Many renowned designers have already collaborated with Kartell. Among the most popular Kartell products are the versatile containers Componibili, the extravagant table Bourgie and the refined chair Masters by the iconic designer Philippe Starck. Kartell's light fixtures and furniture have won numerous design prizes, including several Compassi d'Oro.
Kartell was founded in 1949 by the chemist Giulio Castelli and first specialized in manufacturing synthetic materials for the automotive industry. Then it shifted to furniture design. Its portfolio later expanded to include light fixtures and home accessories.
Kartell products were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York at the exhibition "Italia: the New Domestic Landscape" in 1972. This contributed considerably to the brand's international reputation and success. Anna Castelli Ferrieri, architect, designer and wife of the company's founder, Giulio Castelli, designed the Kartell building in 1966 and was chief designer from 1976 to 1987. She designed the small containers Componibili, a Kartell best-seller, during this time.
Ferruccio Laviani has been Kartell's art director sind 1991. He is responsible for Bourgie, Bloom and many other of its most famous products.
He opened his own Kartell museum, where more than 1000 items are exhibited on three levels in Noviglio, Italy, in 1999.
Kartell's highly-original objects debunk the popular belief that synthetic materials are cheap and ugly. Kartell's synthetic materials are high quality, robust and versatile, easy to clean and light. They can be transparent, coloured or plated with metal, which explains why Kartell's creations produce the most diverse effects. A large number of Kartell items seem to be made of precious crystal or exquisite metals.
The Fly collection features some of Kartell's most famous lights: suspensions with an appealing, curved diffuser, which produces a focussed or partly-diffused lighting effect, depending on whether it is made of an opaque or a transparent material.
The most extraordinary Kartell light is Bourgie, a table light with frills, a stylized version of Baroque lights which playfully combines the new with the old, a traditional shape with modern materials. The small, rechargeable table lamp Battery is another smart light; it seems to be made entirely of polished crystal glass, but actually consists of light and sturdy PMMA. This is why the cable-free light fixture can be effortlessly held and carried from one place to another.
Kartell's repertoire consists of seats and tables, shelves and sideboards. Not every product is made exclusively of synthetics. The trolley Gastone has a metallic frame, while the comfortable sofas in the series Plastics Duo and Pop have a smooth filling with textile covers. The couch Magic Hole by Philippe Starck, whis is made of plastic, is suitable for indoor and outdoor use. This advantage of plastic furniture is shared by designer classics like Masters Chair and Ghost. The transparent, dyed plastic turns the stool Stone by Marcel Wanders into a polished precious stone, while the vases in the series Jellies by Patricia Urquiola are reminiscent of coloured jelly. The table Invisible, the shelf Ghost and the Joe Colombo chair, the re-edition of a 1960s designer classic, appear to be made of glass, thanks to their transparency.