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Designers Pay Tribute to the Componibili at Fifty

The much loved Componibili, an Italian design classic from Kartell, have turned fifty.

The World of Componibili

Created by Anna Castelli Ferrieri (1920–2006), an architect, town planner and designer—and Kartell’s Art Director from 1976 to 1987—the Componibili were an industrial design marvel. Known originally as ‘mobili 4970/84’, the Componibili were the first modular furniture pieces designed for assembly and production in ABS (plastic). Kartell’s constant design staple, plastic was an innovative material at the time and a material of the future. While some design aficionados might choose to snub plastic as an inferior medium, it is truly the stuff of many great designs.

Componibili through the years: 1960s and 1980s.
Componibili through the years: 1990s and 2000s.

The Componibili have a myriad of practical applications, and are found all over: in homes, offices, workshops, sheds and more. Their flexibility, smart aesthetic and accessibility mean the Componibili have excited legions of fans throughout the years. Attractive and affordable, the Componibili modular units often act as a gateway to a world of good design. Found in the permanent exhibitions at MOMA in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, every well-designed home deserves at least one Componibili.

In acknowledging the design significance of the Componibili by Anna Castelli Ferrieri, Kartell President Claudio Luti observes: ‘Not only does it recount the origin and roots of Kartell, but it also reminds us that this product was such a novelty in the history of design that it became an icon of industrial production.’

Tribute to Componibili. 50th Anniversary

A Tribute to Componibili on its 50th anniversary.

Kartell invited fifteen designers to present their personal vision of and tribute to the Componibili: the result was a series of curious and novel signature pieces, each one celebrating the Componibili and its definitive form. Those designers paying homage to Anna Castelli Ferrieri’s Componibili included: Piero Lissoni, Mario Bellini, Patricia Urquiola, Oki Sato and Philippe Starck.

Italian architect and designer Piero Lissoni chose to emulate Jackson Pollock’s ‘action painting’ style in paying tribute to the Componibili.
Italian architect and designer Mario Bellini aped Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans in his tribute to the Componibili.
Spanish architect and designer Patricia Urquiola’s tribute to the Componibili represents a place in which one can store ‘tangible thoughts and memories’. But with so many, it’s bursting at the seams.
In his tribute, Oki Sato—of Japanese studio Nendo—chose to focus on the various objects in a room that gather around the Componibili. Sato created a family-like expression of objects, each one resembling the Componibili.
French designer Philippe Starck chose to reimagine his gnome table stools for Kartell as the ideal tribute to the Componibili.
Italian fashion house Pucci paid tribute to the Componibili by applying founder Emilio Pucci’s ‘Campanule’ floral print edition.

Italian designer and architect Alessandro Mendini’s bold tribute to the Componibili.
Japanese artist and designer Tokujin Yoshioka (left) and Walt Disney (right) pay tribute to the Componibili.
Design engineer Alberto Meda’s tribute to the Componibili is a functional, structural piece.
Designers with their Componibili tributes and Claudio Luti, Kartell’s President (fourth from left).

All images courtesy of Kartell.

Gerard McGuickin

Gerard is a writer, a thinker and a modern-day gentleman living in a modish neighbourhood in south Belfast. Walnut Grey Design is his popular manifesto of good design. From Gerard’s discerning perspective, design should be aesthetic, smart, honest and gratifying. Moreover, it must be for keeps. A self-confessed urbanite, Gerard is enthralled b[...]

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