In its seventy-year history, Kartell has devoted great attention to research, innovation and technological development processes. Quality, design and industrial products have distinguished its progress over time, starting from functional objects for domestic use which revolutionised the history of post-WWII design, through to the creation of the most sophisticated products which team manufacturing technology with innovative materials like carbon and biopolymers. The company’s history is intertwined with the dedication and passion of three generations who have been actively involved in the development and evolution of the brand.
Founded by Giulio Castelli in 1949, in the early years Kartell took its first steps to produce the distinctive design that would come to epitomise the ‘Made in Italy’ label. From the outset, the company worked with the greatest designers and architects of the day, in particular Anna Castelli Ferrieri, Giulio’s wife and one of the first female architects, plus Gino Colombini, Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, Joe Colombo, Marco Zanuso, Gae Aulenti, Richard Sapper, Giotto Stoppino and Ignazio Gardella. mpany always considered to be inextricably linked to the product development process in those years.
In 1988 the company was acquired by Claudio Luti, the son-in-law of Giulio and Anna Castelli who had a background in fashion. Luti sought collaborations with designers and architects like Philippe Starck, Ron Arad, Antonio Citterio, Ferruccio Laviani, Piero Lissoni, Patricia Urquiola, Mario Bellini, Alberto Meda and Vico Magistretti, who were responsible for those products that soon came to symbolise the brand. The fresh approach to materials dictated the new direction and brought real turning points for Kartell: studying, manipulating and enriching materials resulted in an end product which, although made entirely of plastic, offered unprecedented characteristics.
The turning point came when, after years of research and thanks to a revolutionary innovation, in 1999 Kartell became the first company in the world to use polycarbonate to produce furnishing items. The result was La Marie, a completely transparent chair with modern, minimalist design which paved the way for Louis Ghost, still one of Kartell’s best sellers today.
Over its seventy-year history, while Kartell has never lost sight of its mission, it has shown an ability to change, anticipating changing tastes and the needs of a market and an international clientele adept at choosing and mixing. Among the core values of Kartell today is an unwavering dedication to sustainability and protecting the environment, underlined through the industrial manifesto “Kartell loves the planet”. Passion for excellence, which has guided Kartell’s every move from the outset, has led the company to focus on environmental responsibility and good sustainability practices.