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Kartell: The Culture of Plastics

The Italian furniture maker's plastic history

by Paolo Ferrarini in Design on 31 January 2013

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From the very beginning of Kartell's history plastic and design have been the mantra. Founded by Giulio Castelli, a chemical engineer, the Italian furniture brand is the most influential proponent of plastic industrial design, building a sizable following through quality production processes and design contribution by innovative designers. The homes of the 1960s and '70s were very keen on accepting this experimentation and thus the company grew rapidly. Even though today Kartell is owned and directed by Claudio Luti, the founding ideals remain the same, making a strong argument for the chemical formula of success.

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In order to celebrate this tradition Taschen has recently released a substantial, meticulously curated monograph entitled "Kartell: The Culture of Plastics." The work of editor Hans Werner Holzwarth, professor of visual communications at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, and Elisa Storace, curator of the Kartell Museum, describes in its 400 pages more than 60 years of activity, nine Compasso D'Oro ADI awards and the colorful design icons created by the likes of Gae Aulenti, Joe Colombo, Philippe Starck, Vico Magistretti, Antonio Citterio, Ron Arad, Piero Lissoni, Ferruccio Laviani, Patricia Urquiola, Marcel Wanders and Tokujin Yoshioka, to name a few.

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This self-proclaimed "big book of plastics" is strictly organized in chronological order, leading us through the astonishing shapes and space-age aesthetic of the '60s, the experimentation of the '70s, the almost subversive style of the '80s, the "transparent revolution" of the '90s and the sensorial approach of the last 10 years. Authors of the book include international design experts, museum directors, philosophers, journalists and artists such as Silvana Annicchiarico, Franca Sozzani, Gillo Dorfles, Deyan Sudjic, Chantal Hamaide, R. Craig Miller, Marie-Laure Jousset, Giovanni Odoni.

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Kartell: The Culture of Plastics will be published on 1 March 2013 by Taschen in two editions, the first in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese and the second in English, French and German. The historic accuracy is also guaranteed by an index of each product and award. Find it from Taschen directly or pre-order on Amazon for $40.

Images courtesy of Kartell

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