Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Kartell at MoDiP

Kartell is an Italian firm that makes and sells contemporary furniture. From MoDiP's point of view it is a very important company as plastics have been central to its mission from its outset.

The company was set up in 1949 to manufacture car accessories in plastics and shortly also became involved in a mission to substitute plastics for glass in laboratory equipment. In 1963 it expanded into household goods and set itself the challenge of introducing 'plastic to to the home'. It has worked and continues to work with an international team of leading designers and has played a significant role in Italy's reputation as a trendsetter. Kartell products are now sold in 96 different countries through 120 flagship shops and more than 4000 points of sale. It also has its own museum in which more than a 1000 of Kartell products are displayed.

Kartell has been represented in the MoDiP collection for some time by chairs designed by Philippe Starck, Ron Arad, and Antiono Citterio and Oliver Low, the latter two working in collaboration. In 2010 we acquired a stool entitled Stone Stool designed by Michael Wanders in 2006 which looks like a cut glass vase and we are pleased to have recently added three further works. They are Moon Bowl and Shanghai Vase designed by Mario Bellini and Jelly Plate designed by Particia Urquiloa. They are all made of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) sold under various trade names such as Acrylite, Plexiglas and Perspex, and famous in its early days as the material of which Spitfire cockpits were made. They are testimony to the brilliant clarity of the material. 

The new pieces match Wanders' Stone Stool in scale and are currently on display at MoDiP with it and two stools designed  by Philippe Starck: the Prince AHA Stool  of 1996 and Atilla Stool-Table of 1999. The hourglass shape of the Prince AHA Stool shares its symmetry with that of the title. The stool is reversible and its ends consist of lids that allow storage within. The Atilla Stool-Table is in the form of a hand-painted garden gnome holding up the seat representing a slice of tree. Who would have thought that the simple stool could give rise to such different and imaginative renditions?

The 2013 Kartell display

Susan Lambert
Head of the Museum of Design in Plastics

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