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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
$519
Styles
Materials
Related Creators
La Boheme Stool in Yellow by Philippe Starck for Kartell
By Kartell, Philippe Starck
Located in San Diego, CA
La Boheme stool in hard to find yellow by Philippe Starck for Kartell, circa 2000s. The stool is made of transparent polycarbonate and measures 13.3"D x 18"H; perfect for indoor or o...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary German Organic Modern Kartell

Materials

Plastic

Philippe Starck & Eugeni Quitllet White Masters Chairs for Kartell - a Pair
By Eugeni Quitllet, Kartell, Philippe Starck
Located in Miami, FL
Pair of white masters chairs by Philippe Starck and Eugeni Quitllet for Kartell. Philippe Starck and Eugeni Quitllet pay homage to three different midcentury-modern masters in one...
Category

2010s Italian Mid-Century Modern Kartell

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Plastic

Kartell I Shine in Blue by Eugeni Quitllet
By Eugeni Quitllet, Kartell
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Eugeni Quitllet designs a precious collection of decorative vases made of transparent PMMA. The line is composed of a vase and a table centre, distinctive for their elegant geometry ...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Kartell

Materials

Resin

  • Kartell I Shine in Blue by Eugeni Quitllet
  • Kartell I Shine in Blue by Eugeni Quitllet
  • Kartell I Shine in Blue by Eugeni Quitllet
  • Kartell I Shine in Blue by Eugeni Quitllet
H 13 in. W 7.88 in. D 3.75 in.
Kartell I Shine in Green by Eugeni Quitllet
By Eugeni Quitllet, Kartell
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Eugeni Quitllet designs a precious collection of decorative vases made of transparent PMMA. The line is composed of a vase and a table centre, distinctive for their elegant geometry ...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Kartell

Materials

Resin

  • Kartell I Shine in Green by Eugeni Quitllet
  • Kartell I Shine in Green by Eugeni Quitllet
  • Kartell I Shine in Green by Eugeni Quitllet
  • Kartell I Shine in Green by Eugeni Quitllet
H 13 in. W 7.88 in. D 3.75 in.
Kartell Bourgie Mat in White by Ferruccio Laviani
By Ferruccio Laviani, Kartell
Located in Brooklyn, NY
A lamp with an inimitable style, Bourgie is one of Kartell’s best sellers, skillfully combining classic style, richness and tradition with innovation and irony. The baroque style bas...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Kartell

Materials

Plastic

Kartell Battery Lamps in Metallic Gold by Ferruccio Laviani
By Kartell, Ferruccio Laviani
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Battery is an iconic compact lampshade. It is made from transparent PMMA and truly embodies innovation, being 100% rechargeable when plugged in and with a battery life of up to 8 hou...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Kartell

Materials

Resin

Kartell K-Wood Arm-Chair by Philippe Starck in Dark Wood Black
By Philippe Starck, Kartell
Located in Brooklyn, NY
The Smart Wood collection is the outcome of Kartell's unremitting research into the possibility of giving three dimensional form to a material which so far has always been two dimens...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Kartell

Materials

Wood

Kartell KD29 Desk Light Joe Colombo circa 1970 Purple
By Joe Colombo, Kartell
Located in Sydney, NSW
Classic Space Age designed table lamp by Joe Colombo for Kartell and licensed manufactured by Advance Industries, Australia. The KD29 table lamp is made entirely of plastic and ha...
Category

1970s Australian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Kartell

Materials

Plastic

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Kartell Sellers

Kartell USA Inc
4.8 / 5
Magazzino76
5 / 5
That Galerie, Inc.
4.9 / 5
Aaron Mapp
5 / 5
Compasso
4.5 / 5
Fuori Catalogo
4.7 / 5
Volubilis Art
5 / 5
Italian Design 900
5 / 5
MY MODERN
4.9 / 5

Creators Similar to Kartell

Kartell furniture for sale on 1stDibs

Kartell furniture is available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of Plastic and are designed with extraordinary care. In our Kartell collection, there are many options to choose from, although gray editions of this piece are particularly popular. In stock are 116 vintage editions of these items, while there are 619 modern editions to choose from as well. Many of Kartell's original furniture was created in modern style in Europe during the 21st century and contemporary. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Ghidini 1961, Roberto Cavalli and Philippe Starck. Kartell furniture prices can vary depending on size, time period and other attributes. Price for these items starts at $70 and tops out at $12,000, while pieces like these can sell for $581 on average.