In the same way that pop art has become distinguished and coveted, plastic furniture has made a distinctive mark in the world of interiors. Just take the iconic Louis Ghost Chair designed by Philippe Starck for contemporary Italian furniture company, Kartell.
Though the chair was launched 15 years ago, 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. 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. You can find many of these ideas brought to life at Kartell’s first flagship store in Manila, where no matter their transparency, a coordinated line of Ghost furniture by the entrance can grab the attention of passersby on the sidewalk.
A design icon since the ‘60s, Kartell has made a name for furniture that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but is most certainly full of substantial statements. Besides Starck, countless esteemed designers across the world have taken the opportunity to express their art through collaborations with the brand. Bringing something new to the table where tableware is concerned, Patricia Urquiola experimented with textures to create a Jellies series of dining items that look good enough to eat. Legendary architect Piero Lissoni, on the other hand, utilized a compound used in aeronautics to create a Piuma chair that’s sleek and remarkably light.
Founded by chemical engineer Guilio Castelli in 1949, technology was already at the heart of Kartell from the beginning, foretelling a future of quality and innovative furniture production. In the past 60 years, the company has been at the forefront of industrial plastic design, creating pieces that are both prized and practical. It has racked up countless awards worldwide, from a Wallpaper Design Award for Christophe Pillet’s stunning Shibuya vase in 2014 to a prestigious Red Dot Design Award this year for Lissoni’s Piuma chair. Beyond the awards, Kartell staples like the Componbili storage unit—celebrating its 50th anniversary this year—have been displayed and honored at the MoMA in New York City.
Of course, the “industrial revolutions” continue at Kartell’s Milan headquarters. The company has made headway in injection molding, or the creation of a single, sturdy piece of furniture (employed by Starck in his single mold polycarbonate collection for Kartell).
Intensive research has led to the production of plastics that weigh little yet remain tough and flexible, all while looking soft and elegant. These technologies have even been applied to the brand’s other forays, from lighting to a fashion-forward line of handbags and footwear.
By giving the world a bright perspective on the future of plastic, the company has built a growing global fanbase. Today, Kartell has expanded to over 130 flagship stores, with its just-launched Manila showroom now included among these. A selection of Kartell’s greatest hits, as well as its latest collection, can now be found in Bonifacio High Street.
Surveying the brand’s pops of color and clever statements in décor, the personality that’s necessary in giving life to a living room or muted office space are most certainly on display. And as the art boom intensifies in our country and more Filipinos express themselves through spaces filled with character, a Kartell piece or two will definitely feel right at home.