Kartell: The Culture of Plastics

Kartell-monograph-1-thumb-425x227-54124My new article for Cool Hunting

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.

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 ColomboPhilippe Starck, Vico Magistretti, Antonio Citterio, Ron Arad, Piero Lissoni, Ferruccio Laviani, Patricia Urquiola, Marcel Wanders and Tokujin Yoshioka, to name a few.

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.

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.

Annunci

Flos 50th Anniversary

My new article from Cool Hunting

In its 50-year tenure Flos has truly embodied the spirit of Italian design, serving as a laboratory of experimentation for designers such as Ronan and Erwan BouroullecAchille CastiglioniAntonio CitterioPaul CocksedgeRodolfo DordoniRon GiladKonstantin GrcicPiero Lissoni,Jasper MorrisonMarc NewsonTobia ScarpaPhilippe StarckPatricia Urquiola and Marcel Wanders, just to name a few. Entrepreneurs Dino Gavina, Arturo Eiseinkeil and Cesare Cassina established the brand in 1962 based on the simple values of talent, art and culture, and in 1964 Flos— meaning “flower” in Latin—moved to the Brescia area under the guidance of Sergio Gandini, the visionary who brought in legendary talents like Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni and Tobia Scarpa.

Gandini thus began the brand’s remarkable story of passion, hard work and a near obsessive devotion to experimentation, research and innovation—all of which has been diligently documented in the Flos Historical Archive by Gandini’s wife and the 2011 Compasso d’Oro winner Piera Pezzolo Gandini. With the help of a team of professionals and friends, for the last six years Pezzolo Gandini has undertaken meticulous research, restoration and classification work to bring together prototypes, designs, original drawings, packaging, graphics, advertising, photographs, film clips, books, catalogues, awards and appearances at trade fairs, exhibitions and museums. The archive takes various forms—multimedia, paper and collections of products and objects.

In order to celebrate this important anniversary, Flos is launching an iPad application developed by Mobile Dream Studio. We recently had the chance to preview the app in Milan, and it is not simply a catalogue, but a true journey in the history of design. Sergio and Piera’s son, Piero, the CEO of Flos, collaborated with writer and journalist Stefano Casciani and photographer Ramak Fazel to create a real family history focused on “precision, project and poetry”.

The app—available late April 2012—offers a detailed chronological sequence of facts, full of archived images of the people who started the company, as well as sketches, prototypes, games, products and videos of the production processes.

Pavillon Hermès

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Enzo MariAntonio Citterio and the RDAI studio recently joined Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic director of Hermès, to design a complete furniture collection for the iconic French maison. Sofas, chairs, tables and other pieces accompany wallpapers and furnishing fabrics. Opulent materials like precious wood, leather and fine fabric are central to the project, come only second to their approach to design around the essential needs of comfort and and basic function.

In the quest for the best quality, the team chose Dedar to head up the manufacturing and distribution of fabrics and wallpaper, while B&B Italia is their preferred partner for the development and construction of the contemporary furniture.

To reveal these new collections, Dumas tapped Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines to create a temporary and ethereal home. Cardboard tubes and paper were the only materials used in the poetic Pavillon Hermès, on view in Milan during the recent Design Week. Using the words of Jean Cocteau, this installation represented “the invisibility of true elegance.”

De Gastines began his career with Frank Gehry and since then has created thermal spas, holiday cottages, residences and numerous wine stores in the Médoc and French Basque country, as well as in South Africa. Since 2000, de Gastines has collaborated with Ban on all of his European work.

Born in Tokyo, Ban studied at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in Los Angeles, and then at NYC’s Cooper Union School of Architecture, where developed an interest in “architectonic poetics.”

Available in Autumn 2011, the collections will be sold exclusively in a selection of Hermès boutiques worldwide.