design

Design Icons: the Componibili turns 50

Kartell

An all-time bestseller of Kartell, designed by the company's co-founder Anna Castelli Ferrieri, the Componibili is now in its 50th year. Going through many editions and iterations over the last half century, this iconic design piece has always been future-facing. The modular unit is designed for flexibility, where the user buys individual elements and assembles them according to their desire.

Kartell is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Componibili. Pictured here, designers, curators, critics and intellectuals are standing around well-known limited editions and some vintage units. 

Who? 

Anna Castelli Ferrieri's education in architecture and industrial design provided the perfect background for her role as art director for Kartell, a company she co-founded with her late husband Giulio Castelli in 1949. Known for her work with plastic (polyurethane), an uncommon medium at the time, her designs have played a significant role in Kartell's success – and continue to do so to this day. The novel forms she created were both elegant and functional.

What?

Designed by Castelli Ferrieri in 1967, the Componibili has a permanent stand in New York's MOMA as well as the  Centre George Pompidou in Paris. Admired by the design world for its innovative approach and futuristic form, what we like most about it is its flexibility and multi-functionality. The very first Componibili was square with rounded corners and later there was a design with all four sides open, while others had optional hinged doors. Kartell also developed a lid that could be used as a surface top for a modular unit or a group. Due to the popularity of the square unit, a round version, known as 'round-ups', was developed in 1969 in the United States. Originally, the Componibili's were only available in white, black, yellow, red and orange, with brown and green becoming available in the early 1970s. At this time, Kartell was manufactured under licence, which resulted in a wide array of colours and designs being developed all over the world, but in 1980 the production rights were pulled back to Italy only.

What now?

Kartell is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Componibili this year; the unit is still much loved and in demand. In South Africa they're available directly from Kartell or via True Design. Depending on size (two tier versus three tier), as well as the finish (metallic-dipped or plain), a unit will vary in cost from R2 065 to R6 014. Visit kartell.com for more details. Save