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Seletti isn’t design: Maurizio Cattelan at the neighbourhood market
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Estimated reading time
4 Minutes

Seletti isn’t design: Maurizio Cattelan at the neighbourhood market

Seletti isn’t a designer brand. In other words, adding graphics to a pot isn’t designing.
Stefano Seletti

Nobody would ever dare to suggest that. Aside from the person who brought out mass produced plates and cups decorated with ToiletPaper’s irreverent graphics. The Italian entrepreneur who sold a music box that was actually a sculpture of the letters L.O.V.E. — Cattelan’s finger pointing at people in Piazza Affari in Milan. The small-town kid who has sold thousands of luminous letters, a line of plates broken in half and glued back together again — Seletti Hybrid —, mice and monkeys holding a light-bulb.

Stefano Seletti by Pierpaolo FerrariStefano Seletti by Pierpaolo Ferrari

Seletti, the beginnings: Cicognara – Beijing round-trip

The Po valley, near Mantova, Cicognara, a small provincial town, in the year nineteen sixty-four. It was Romano Seletti who founded the firm named after him. What type of business was it? Tablecloths, plates, cups and glasses made in the Orient, from China and Thailand, manufactured at low cost, home-ware that was practically handmade, to be sold in the markets of Italian towns, both big and small.

1987. His son Stefano was seventeen years old and began accompanying him on these forward-thinking business trips which, as he recalls, were real exploratory journeys of a world that people still knew very little about.

They would put up a sign that said Arrivals when an aeroplane was landing and swap it for one saying Departures when the plane was taking off.
Stefano Seletti

3 My Boat trays
Hybrid - Valdrada fruit dish
Sitting Mouse table lamp
Hybrid - Maurilia sugar bowl
L.O.V.E. finger sculpture with music box
Moresque table lamp

Seletti, fame: lamps and cups, letters and Pantone

Conquer your niche and then move out to the rest of the market. Or vice versa. Do you remember those foldable plastic tables with chairs, a must-have for campers and weekend excursionists? They were Seletti’s.

And the crumpled plastic cups made in ceramics? Also by Seletti. The series was called Estetico Quotidiano and when the supermarket chain Esselunga adopted it as part of their Free Gift customer reward scheme it turned Seletti into a household name. It was such a public showcase, and this is what makes our story even more enjoyable.

And then we had neon letters by Vegaz and Neon Art signs to light up your home and showcase your own emotions. And the well-known foldable chairs by Pantone and all the other products made using this iconic system for cataloguing colours.

6 dinner plates Estetico Quotidiano
Neon Art Number wall lamp
6 soup plates Estetico Quotidiano
Cosmic Starman vase
6 salad plates Estetico Quotidiano
Red Shades neon lamp

Seletti, success: Maurizio Cattelan, ToiletPaper and Studio Job

So, with creativity, irony and quality, without ever giving up on making pieces accessible and to be used everyday – not just when you have guests – Seletti sets its sights on the pinnacle of international design. And art.

The pieces of the series Seletti wears ToiletPaper caused an uproar. Using the images originally designed for the ToiletPaper magazine was just one aspect of Seletti’s partnership with Maurizio Cattelan: there’s also the L.O.V.E sculpture, a music box and a snow globe. And some of Seletti’s pieces are also part of the permanent design collection at the MoMA in New York. This success carries through to the outdoor furniture series Industry, designed in partnership with Studio Job, at the cutting edge of European home décor.

Cutting edge design. This is Seletti’s trade mark, it sets the firm apart today, just as it did in the sixties.

Monkey Lamp pendant
Typewriter Toiletpaper umbrella
Lipsticks mirror 30x40 cm
Pony dinner plate
Metalvetica letter H 35 cm
Teapot
Sturalavandino mug
Denti Toiletpaper rug
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