Plastic as used in furniture finds no better master than Kartell, the Milan-based brand that was founded by the late couple Giulio Castelli and Anna Castelli Ferrieri. While the chemical engineer and architect duo started with car accessories in 1949, it was in their goods for the household and their experiments with polymerics and polycarbonates that they found their groove.
Over the years, the label made and maintained relationships with bold-faced names in the design world, including Philippe Starck, Patricia Urquoila, and Ettore Sottsass. “As pop art gained recognition through the 60s and 70s, so did using plastics in furnishing one’s home. From here, the company’s premium plastic furniture became distinguished and coveted, especially through the big names in design it consistently involved,” says Paolo Lorenzana, the communications director of the recently launched Kartell in Manila, the brand’s first store in the Philippines.Lorenzana brings up the 15-year-old Starck-designed Louis Ghost chair to describe Kartell’s aesthetic. “It remains one of the great conversation pieces in modern furniture design. Starck rendered the antique Louis XVI armchair in transparent Polycarbonate—a mishmash of old-world pomp and smart innovation,” he says. “Created in light, durable plastic, a vintage French armchair could find thrilling new expression in this day and age. It’s ideas like these that have shown savants and interior designers alike the potential of plastic furniture. Kartell has made a name for furniture that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but is most certainly full of substantial statements.”
The shop in Bonifacio Global City is a two-floor house of molded curiosities. On one shelf are curved wonders that include wine racks (Infinity) and glasses (Jellies) while a whole wall supports the Bookworm, a shell that snakes into an interesting shape. There are the chairs, of course, like the Dr. Yes and the Spoon as well as Ghost pieces of different forms and shades. These seats are all sturdy and comfortable, contrary to what you might expect out of plastic.Then there’s the Componbili, a countless unit that comes in countless sizes and colors, which is displayed at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. The piece is 50 years old this year, and to celebrate it, the store is offering 50% off on all Componbili units. For this season, the brand is expressing these pieces as well as some of its classic models in a lot of bright metallic.Lorenzana shares that they will soon launch Kartell Conversations, which is a series of cocktail-accompanied talks with notable names in design. And, moving forward, they will continue to bring in pieces from the label that continue to elevate their principal material.
“It’s through these updated plastics and alternative materials that design has a greater vocabulary,” he says.
Photography by Renzo Navarro
Art direction by Mags Ocampo
KARTELL MANILA IS AT 30TH STREET CORNER 9TH AVENUE, BONIFACIO GLOBAL CITY, TAGUIG; 817-5595; BGC.KARTELL@GMAIL.COM