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

Kama Sex and Design

Kama_VaginaWall-thumb-620x411-52036My new article for Cool Hunting.

The products of design are often objects of desire, but to what extent can this drive be pushed? The exhibition “Kama Sex and Design” ventures an answer to that weighty question with an analysis of the visual representation of sexual motifs. The starting point is Kama, the Indian god of sexual pleasure, who welcomes visitors into the exhibition space at the Triennale in Milan. The route runs between contemporary objects, classic design, site-specific installations and photographs.

Curator Silvana Annicchiarico tells us that the show “aims to be an exhibition on objects which have the genitals and sexual organs as morphological matrix, but also on the body that maintains sexual relations with other bodies. It is an exhibition that investigates how sex is present in everyday objects.” To achieve this goal, the exhibition is divided into eight sections: Archetypes, Priapus, Origin du Monde, Breasts, Buttocks, Orifices, Couplings and Erotic Food Design, and is accompanied by an ambitious central installation entitled “Anatomical Atlas of the Erotic Refined Body.” Among Etruscan sculptures, Greek vases and Roman artifacts we find very well known works like the Mae West sofa by Salvador Dalí, as well as provocative pieces such as “The Great Wall of Vagina” by Jamie McCartney, a relief of 400 plaster casts of female genitalia.

The exploration begins with a room by Andrea Branzi, in which the relationships between classical and modern, and sex and death, are made explicit through skulls and reproductions of classical female nudes. It continues with a black monolith by Lapo Lani, located in a dark space covered with obscene writing viewed by flashlights.

In another room Nendo‘s “Shivering Bowls” resembling female breasts move as their name suggests, moving in an unexpectedly poetic manner with a constant flow of air. The softness of Nendo’s work contrasts with the hard marble and metals in Betony Vernon‘s installation where mysterious objects of the body (and a provocatively phallic marble chair) are presented in a red space reminiscent of an elegant brothel.

Other designers and artists whose work is on display include Nacho CarbonellNigel CoatesMatali CrassetItalo RotaPiero Fornasetti, Ettore Sottsass, Gaetano Pesce. “Kama Sex and Design” runs through 10 March 2013 and is prohibited for persons under 18 years.