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Kartell

Italian

The Italian design giant Kartell transformed plastic from the stuff of humble household goods into a staple of luxury design in the 1960s. Founded in Milan by Italian chemical engineer Giulio Castelli (1920–2006) and his wife Anna Ferrieri (1918–2006), Kartell began as an industrial design firm, producing useful items like ski racks for automobiles and laboratory equipment designed to replace breakable glass with sturdy plastic. Even as companies like Olivetti and Vespa were making Italian design popular in the 1950s, typewriters and scooters were relatively costly, and Castelli and Ferrieri wanted to provide Italian consumers with affordable, stylish goods.

They launched a housewares division of Kartell in 1953, making lighting fixtures and kitchen tools and accessories from colorful molded plastic. Consumers in the postwar era were initially skeptical of plastic goods, but their affordability and infinite range of styles and hues eventually won devotees. Tupperware parties in the United States made plastic storage containers ubiquitous in postwar homes, and Kartell’s ingenious designs for juicers, dustpans, and dish racks conquered Europe. Kartell designer Gino Colombini was responsible for many of these early products, and his design for the KS 1146 Bucket won the Compasso d’Oro prize in 1955.

Buoyed by its success in the home goods market, Kartell introduced its Habitat division in 1963. Designers Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper created the K1340 (later called the K 4999) children’s chair that year, and families enjoyed their bright colors and light weight, which made them easy for kids to pick up and move. In 1965, Joe Colombo (1924–78) created one of Kartell’s few pieces of non-plastic furniture, the 4801 chair, which sits low to the ground and comprised of just three curved pieces of plywood. (In 2012, Kartell reissued the chair in plastic.) Colombo followed up on the success of the 4801 with the iconic 4867 Universal Chair in 1967, which, like Verner Panton’s S chair, is made from a single piece of plastic. The colorful, stackable injection-molded chair was an instant classic. That same year, Kartell introduced Colombo’s KD27 table lamp. Ferrierei’s cylindrical 4966 Componibili storage module debuted in 1969.

Kartell achieved international recognition for its innovative work in 1972, when a landmark exhibition curated by Emilio Ambasz called “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape” opened at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. That show introduced American audiences to the work of designers such as Gaetano Pesce; Ettore Sottsass, founder of the Memphis Group; and the firms Archizoom and Superstudio (both firms were among Italy's Radical design groups) — all of whom were using wit, humor and unorthodox materials to create a bracingly original interior aesthetic.

Castelli and Ferrieri sold Kartell to Claudio Luti, their son-in-law, in 1988, and since then, Luti has expanded the company’s roster of designers.

Kartell produced Ron Arad’s Bookworm wall shelf in 1994, and Philippe Starck’s La Marie chair in 1998. More recently, Kartell has collaborated with the Japanese collective Nendo, Spanish architect Patricia Urquiola and glass designer Tokujin Yoshioka, among many others. Kartell classics can be found in museums around the world, including MoMA, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. In 1999, Claudio Luti established the Museo Kartell to tell the company’s story, through key objects from its innovative and colorful history.

Find vintage Kartell tables, seating, table lamps and other furniture on 1stDibs.

Average Sold Price
$674
Styles
Materials
Related Creators
Olaf Von Bohr for Kartell Mod. 4964 Chest of Drawers, Italy 1970s
By Olaf von Bohr, Kartell
Located in Naples, IT
Designed by Olaf Von Bohr and meticulously manufactured by Kartell, this versatile sideboard or shoe cabinet, model 4964, is a masterpiece of avant-garde vintage design. The rectangu...
Category

1970s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Kartell

Materials

Plastic

Carlo Bartoli for Kartell Mod.4875 Plastic Chair, Italy, 1970s
By Carlo Bartoli, Kartell
Located in Naples, IT
Modern Italian white plastic chair with rounded seat and back, Mod." 4875" by Carlo Bartoli for Kartell, 1970s. The circular chair legs are ...
Category

1970s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Kartell

Materials

Plastic, Rubber

Kartell x Laufen Blue-Green Wall-mounted Lucite Towel Rail, Italy
By Kartell, Laufen
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Kartell x Laufen Aquamarine Blue-Green Wall-mounted Lucite Towel Rail, Italy. The Kartell Rail Towel Rail is able to accommodate any contemporary bathroom with its simple form and array of transparent colors and sizes. Made out of lightweight yet solid PMMA plastic, Rail mounts easily to the wall to hold and complement your best hand or bath towels. Designed by Ludovica and Roberto Palomba. Founded in 1949 by Giulio and Anna Castelli, Kartell has become the world leader—and innovator—in the realm of molded plastic furniture...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Kartell

Materials

Lucite

Green Plastic Chairs 4875 by Carlo Bartoli for Kartell 1970s, Set of 6
By Carlo Bartoli, Kartell
Located in Padova, IT
Oustanding and rare set of 6 green plastic chairs 4875 model, designed by Carlo Bartoli and produced by Kartell 1970s. In Good condition, wear con...
Category

1970s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Kartell

Materials

Plastic

Anna Castelli Ferrieri for Kartell Componibili 3-Tier Drawer Side Table, 1970s
By Anna Castelli Ferrieri, Kartell
Located in Naples, IT
Componibili Classic round modular storage unit designed by Anna Castelli Ferrieri for Kartell in 1970. Componibili storage unit / 3 drawers ivory designed by Anna Castelli Ferrieri f...
Category

1970s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Kartell

Materials

Plastic

Unique Coat Rack by Olaf Von Boh for Kartell, Italy 1970
By Olaf von Bohr, Kartell
Located in Amsterdam, NL
A pop-art style coat rack designed by Olaf Von Bohr, manufactured by Kartell in Italy around 1970. A very unique and distinctive piece! Made of brown wood with a lovely natural nerv...
Category

1970s Italian Vintage Kartell

Materials

Plastic, Wood

1970s Kartell Black ABS Plastic Nesting Tables by Giotto Stoppino, Set of 3
By Kartell
Located in Miami, FL
1970s Kartell ABS Plastic Nesting Tables by Giotto Stoppino, Set of 3. Condition: In good vintage condition. No cracks. Light surface scratches. Please expect wear consistent with ...
Category

20th Century Italian Post-Modern Kartell

Materials

Plastic

Lampe Kartell KD6 4006 blanche par Achille Pier Giacomo Castiglioni Italy 1950
By Kartell, Achille & Pier Giacomo Castiglioni
Located in AIX-LES-BAINS, FR
Très rare sur le marché , suspension de taille XXL 62 cm de diamètre, conçue par les designers de renommée mondiale, Achille et Pier Castiglioni et Fabrique par Kartell dans les anné...
Category

1950s Italian Modern Vintage Kartell

Materials

Acrylic

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Kartell furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Kartell furniture are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of plastic and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Kartell furniture, although gray editions of this piece are particularly popular. We have 219 vintage editions of these items in-stock, while there is 904 modern edition to choose from as well. Many of the original furniture by Kartell were created in the modern style in europe during the 21st century and contemporary. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Driade, Philippe Starck, and Gervasoni. Prices for Kartell furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $80 and can go as high as $18,400, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $671.
Questions About Kartell
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    Kartell is known largely for producing contemporary furniture out of plastic. The Italian company, founded in 1949, helped elevate the material, proving that it was suitable for designer furniture. You can find a collection of Kartell furniture and decorative objects on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 21, 2024
    The history of Kartell starts with an Italian chemical engineer named Giulio Castelli and his wife, Anna Ferrieri. The couple founded Kartell in Milan as an industrial design firm, producing utilitarian items like ski racks for automobiles and laboratory equipment designed to replace breakable glass with sturdy plastic. Even as companies like Olivetti and Vespa were making Italian design popular in the 1950s, typewriters and scooters were relatively costly, and Castelli and Ferrieri wanted to provide Italian consumers with affordable, stylish goods. They launched a housewares division of Kartell in 1953, making lighting fixtures and kitchen tools and accessories from colorful molded plastic. Buoyed by its success in the home goods market, Kartell introduced its Habitat division in 1963. Kartell achieved international recognition for its innovative work in 1972, when a landmark exhibition curated by Emilio Ambasz called "Italy: The New Domestic Landscape" opened at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Castelli and Ferrieri sold Kartell to Claudio Luti, their son-in-law, in 1988, and since then, Luti has expanded the company's roster of designers. On 1stDibs, explore a large selection of Kartell furniture.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Kartell Louis Ghost chairs are made of lucite. Designed by Phillipe Starck for Kartell in 2002, this clear chair is crafted from a single piece of plastic, making it a beautifully elegant piece. On 1stDibs, find a range of authentic Kartell Ghost chairs from top sellers.

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