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When a brand knows how to do its job well, it is said to have sartorial wisdom. You were a seamstress, Rosa, and were coming back home from work the day you refused to give up your seat on the bus. And Claudio Luti, Kartell’s president, had just left the high fashion brand Versace when he took over the Italian design company. A literal red thread - the first of many things you have in common.
December 1st, 1955, is the day that made you famous all over the world, Rosa, the one that broke the segregation barrier to which they had forced you.
What few people know, though, is that you were a black civil rights activist for a long time: yours was an intentional gesture - you didn’t plan it, but you really believed in it. Just like Giulio Castelli – a chemical engineer with a passion for new materials. He fully believed in the revolutionary power of plastic and thus founded the experimental design house Kartell in 1949.
Never be afraid of change, this is what you think when you enter Kartell’s stand at Milan’s Salone 2018, where Philippe Starck proved wood is just as good as plastic for the iconic Italian brand. The Woody Collection consists of three chairs in total, two of which are armchairs, and a footstool.
It’s as if Philippe Starck told Claudio Luti, We can create sinuous curves with wood, to convince him to use wood instead of plastics in a Kartell product. That’s what makes the difference, knowing when it’s time to embrace change - just like Castelli, just like you that day on the bus, when you refused to relinquish your seat to a white man.
Violating the law, you helped changing it - like Kartell introduced the revolution of plastics into home decor.
The Woody Collection is still a prototype, but the curvature of the panel and the welcoming shape of the backrest are already a victory. Thanks to a special patent obtained after 30 years of research, the wood is machined with a mould that allows to create comfortable curves. Each creation combines a wooden mould with a plastic base and legs.
Kartell chooses to present prototypes instead of finished products to official events, showing that the process counts as much as the conquest. Nothing great was ever achieved without strength of will and you’d be happy to hear that even for Kartell women had a great importance.
Without Anna Castelli Ferrieri, one of the first women to graduate from the prestigious Milan Polytechnic Institute, in 1943, with an architecture degree, the plastic revolution in home design would not have started. Similarly, Rosa, you have been considered the mother of the civil rights struggle since December, 1st, 1955.
Stand up for your rights, they say. You chose to do the opposite and remain seated, because it was the perfect way to show what your rights were: those of any other person. The power of chairs is much bigger than what we could think.
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