written by:
photos by:
February 11, 2011

While in Italy for a large press event regarding the 50th Salone Del Mobile, I took the opportunity to visit Kartell's headquarters in Noviglio, just outside of Milan. In a rambling campus of orange steel and glazed brick buildings designed by Ignazio Gardella and Anna Castelli Ferrieri, the company opened a corporate museum in 1999 to mark their 50th anniversary. Led by Claudio Luti since 1988, Kartell is best known for realizing a wide range of designs from an international roster of superstar designers. Less well known today is the company's history of innovation during the postwar years, and the role a select group of Italian designers and engineers would play in the 20th century's plastic revolution. What follows is a look at some of the company's outstanding vintage designs.

The Kartell museum is located in Noviglio, just outside Milan.
The Kartell museum is located in Noviglio, just outside Milan.
Photo by 
1 / 14
1950's K 101 Ski Rack by Carlo Barassi and Roberto Menghi, a rubberized set of straps that easily clipped onto a car roof (as opposed to the bulky and unwieldy roof racks then on the market), was the first Kartell product. It proved to be a great success.
1950's K 101 Ski Rack by Carlo Barassi and Roberto Menghi, a rubberized set of straps that easily clipped onto a car roof (as opposed to the bulky and unwieldy roof racks then on the market), was the first Kartell product. It proved to be a great success.
Photo by 
2 / 14
Having produced an array of lab ware, in 1955 Kartell was among the first companies to introduce plastic products to the home environment. The KS 1067 dustpan by Gino Colombini was among their first.
Having produced an array of lab ware, in 1955 Kartell was among the first companies to introduce plastic products to the home environment. The KS 1067 dustpan by Gino Colombini was among their first.
Photo by 
3 / 14
The delicate looking KS 1475 carpet beater was made with polyethylene surrounding a metal core.
The delicate looking KS 1475 carpet beater was made with polyethylene surrounding a metal core.
Photo by 
4 / 14
Gino Colombini's KS 1068 dustpan with handle came in an array of progressive colors enjoyed tremendous success upon its 1957 release. It has subsequently been added to museum collections the world over, including <a href="http://www.moma.org/collection/br
Gino Colombini's KS 1068 dustpan with handle came in an array of progressive colors enjoyed tremendous success upon its 1957 release. It has subsequently been added to museum collections the world over, including MoMA.
Photo by 
5 / 14
A young Milanese architect named <a href="http://designmuseum.org/design/joe-colombo">Joe Colombo</a> realized the 4801 armchair in 1964. An anomaly in the catalog, the chair is made entirely from wood without the use of screws or glue.
A young Milanese architect named Joe Colombo realized the 4801 armchair in 1964. An anomaly in the catalog, the chair is made entirely from wood without the use of screws or glue.
Photo by 
6 / 14
Initially developed for Fiat dealerships, Musée D'Orsay architect <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gae_Aulenti">Gae Aulenti's</a> 1974 collection, including the 4894 table and 4794 armchair seen here, were produced in a moulded rigid polyurethane tha
Initially developed for Fiat dealerships, Musée D'Orsay architect Gae Aulenti's 1974 collection, including the 4894 table and 4794 armchair seen here, were produced in a moulded rigid polyurethane that had a new texture and matte finish.
Photo by 
7 / 14
By the early 1960s the company's design aesthetic had become more refined, and in a way prefigured the space age look that was to become popular by the decade's end. Euginio Gentili Tedeschi's 4062 suspension lamp from 1962 is almost a yard in diameter, a
By the early 1960s the company's design aesthetic had become more refined, and in a way prefigured the space age look that was to become popular by the decade's end. Euginio Gentili Tedeschi's 4062 suspension lamp from 1962 is almost a yard in diameter, and would have been impossible to produce (for cost and technical reasons) in any other material than plastic.
Photo by 
8 / 14
Colombo's 4029 table lamp features indentations to house desktop items.
Colombo's 4029 table lamp features indentations to house desktop items.
Photo by 
9 / 14
Functional, friendly and colorful—to the point of appearing almost cartoonish—a stack of nesting 4906/07 tables by Giotto Stoppino and a bright blue 4850 stacking chair by Giorgina Castiglioni, Giorgio Gaviraghi, and Aldo Lanza, give the spirit of the com
Functional, friendly and colorful—to the point of appearing almost cartoonish—a stack of nesting 4906/07 tables by Giotto Stoppino and a bright blue 4850 stacking chair by Giorgina Castiglioni, Giorgio Gaviraghi, and Aldo Lanza, give the spirit of the company's direction by the late 1960s.
Photo by 
10 / 14
Gerd Lange's space age 4064/65 suspension lamps prefigure today's popular <a href="http://www.ylighting.com/krt-fly.html">FL/Y lamp</a> by Kartell art director Ferruccio Laviani.
Gerd Lange's space age 4064/65 suspension lamps prefigure today's popular FL/Y lamp by Kartell art director Ferruccio Laviani.
Photo by 
11 / 14
The 4545 "centipede" bed by Antonio Locatelli and Pietro Salmoiraghi from 1972 was one of company's least successful offerings and only remained in production for a year.
The 4545 "centipede" bed by Antonio Locatelli and Pietro Salmoiraghi from 1972 was one of company's least successful offerings and only remained in production for a year.
Photo by 
12 / 14
The intensely postmodern 4814 lounge chair with two wheels was among Anna Castelli Ferrieri's last designs for the brand.
The intensely postmodern 4814 lounge chair with two wheels was among Anna Castelli Ferrieri's last designs for the brand.
Photo by 
13 / 14
The museum's bathroom is kitted out with Castelli Ferrieri's 5021/64 Outline System, the 1978 modular wall organizer based on shaker pegs.<br /><br />Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dwell/id411793747?mt=8">
The museum's bathroom is kitted out with Castelli Ferrieri's 5021/64 Outline System, the 1978 modular wall organizer based on shaker pegs.Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!
Photo by 
14 / 14
The Kartell museum is located in Noviglio, just outside Milan.
The Kartell museum is located in Noviglio, just outside Milan.

Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016