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Kartell: Made In Italy

22 March 2024


Kartell is an Italian lighting and furniture manufacturer that produces high-quality and durable items from polycarbonate. Giulio Castelli and his wife Anna Castelli Ferrieri wanted to produce light and cheap objects, combining both technology and design. They started with a ski rack and ended up founding a brand that today is found in more than 50 museum collections.

With over 70 years of history, Kartell pursues beauty and absolute quality in everything they do, they are able to draw on Italy's unrivalled cultural heritage and translate it into objects that are both aesthetically pleasing and sustainable.

The brand continuously looks ahead to the future, collecting what has been done up to now and discovering how to further improve and expand its approach. In 1979, Kartell received a Compasso d'Oro, becoming the first design company to receive one.

Giulio Castelli

Giulio Castelli

Giulio Castelli was born in 1920 and studied under Nobel Prize Winner Giulio Natta. He graduated with a degree in Chemistry in 1943 from Milan Polytechnic before going on to found Kartell in 1949. Castelli created and promoted what he coined the 'culture of plastic' and from the outset of his career, the entrepreneur was part of a group of artists who worked tirelessly to achieve the recognition of quality design in Italian manufacturing. Giulio Castelli spent many years collaborating with iconic designers that he trusted to bring his vision to life, such as Philippe Starck, Antonio Citterio, Ferruccio Laviani, Piero Lissoni, Patricia Urquiola, Alberto Meda and Vico Magistretti, who were responsible for those products that soon came to symbolise the Kartell brand.

He was presented with a special recognition on the 50th anniversary of the ADI Compasso d’Oro Award and in 2004, the mayor of Milan Gabriele Albertini conferred on him the city’s highest award, the Ambrogino d’Oro.

"Kartell is a fine company that keeps redesigning itself. The fact that it keeps looking to the future while never forgetting the past is quite extraordinary"
Piero Lissoni, Italian Architect

Claudio Luti

Claudio Luti

In 1988 Kartell was acquired by Claudio Luti, the son-in-law of Giulio Castelli and his second in command. Luti began his design career as Gianni Versace's right-hand man. The sensibility that Luti had developed under the Versace fashion house, with a love for perfection and tasteful design, heralded a new start for the brand.

Under the power of Claudio Luti, Kartell rapidly expanded into a lighting and furniture empire. With over 130 flagship stores across the globe, and the Kartell Museum that Luti launched in 1999, the brand found a new direction. Adding to his impressive resume, in 2012, Claudio Luti became president of COSMIT, the Italian trade organization behind the world’s acclaimed trade show, Salone del Mobile.

A true turning point for Kartell came in 1999 when they became the first company in the world to use polycarbonate to produce furnishing items. From this moment on, the company developed and explored the theme of transparency that has made it unique and original, continuing its research into the study of surfaces and shapes, starting with the use of new technologies and high-performance materials. And thus Kartell Loves the Planet was born.

"My idea for Kartell was to invent an industrial-design company. I wanted to change the idea that an industrial product was poor, so I collaborated with the best interior designers. The first chair that I made was with Philippe Starck. It totally changed the image of plastic."
Claudio Luti, President of Kartell
Kartell Componibili Bio

Kartell Loves the Planet

Kartell Loves the Planet is a movement that the brand implemented to encourage designers to think outside the box to create more sustainable products. This movement began when Kartell shifted their ideals towards making their products and manufacturing processes as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible. Kartell aims to develop products using the most innovative industrial techniques to reduce their impact on the environment. They are not only committed to offering customers products that are stylish and well-made, but also that will not diminish over time.

The Kartell Loves the Planet manifesto has led to a company sustainability policy that covers 11 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations as a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all". Kartell has identified the SDGs most relevant to its business to bring about a convergence of interests and encourage the involvement of the entire production chain and distribution network.

Kartell today is a company that looks to the future, with Claudio Luti working alongside his children Lorenza and Federico, they joined the firm from different professional backgrounds following their university studies. Kartell now expertly combines the great heritage of corporate culture with the desire to explore new paths and engage in new experiences dominated by an intense passion for creation.

A Kartell product is timeless, produced with the utmost respect for the environment and destined on completion of its function to occupy museum spaces and join collectors' assets. Each design is a beautiful and high-quality product, part of a production process that not only pursues perfection but also pays attention to detail and studies every possible evolutionary change.

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