In tandem with this January's Maison & Objet show, an extraordinary new collection by Ettore Sottsass for Kartell was born. Kartell’s flagship store in Paris has been specially fitted out to launch the Ettore Sottsass accessories range and chairs upholstered in Memphis fabrics, all of which are currently in production. It's now been whisked away on a world tour, with dedicated window displays going in over 140 flagship stores throughout the world. Good news for our local readers: January 10th has seen London's flagship store on 222-223 Brompton Road as one of the first to display this intrepid new collection.
Kartell and the design maestro first banded together in 2004. Still relevant over 10 years later, these projects are boldly rearing their heads in a production launch of an exclusively designed collection for Kartell. The stars of the show will be two stools (Pilastro and Colonna) and a vase (Calice) whose modular approach to volumes and post-modernist shapes, as well as their bold and decidedly pop colour schemes (red, acid green, pink, bright white and glossy black), give them away as true Sottsass creations.
This meeting of minds also sees the perfect opportunity to celebrate one of the maestro's greatest adventures: Memphis. The Foliage line of armchairs and sofas by Patricia Urquiola, the Trix modular seating system, the Pop Duo and Plastic Duo sofas, the Audrey chair by Piero Lissoni, and lastly the Mademoiselle seat by Philippe Starck have all been decked out in Kartell fabrics that present the typical Memphis motifs and patterns, originally designed by Ettore Sottsass and Nathalie du Pasquier, in an innovative and creative new way. The icons mentioned above are being attired in a new post-futurist pop look and are helping to make Memphis' artistic message even more relevant through Kartell's new industrial reinterpretation. In reality they are new products in their own right, with a strong identity and great emotive impact.
The stools and vases, along with all of the upholstered chairs, form the "Kartell goes Sottsass. A tribute to Memphis" collection; they follow a formula that has never before been seen in the sector. Borrowing from the world of fashion, this design capsule collection composed of small, easily combined and interchangeable pieces has, unlike fashion, been designed to last longer than just one season: Everlasting design for homes or public spaces the world over.
The Paris flagship store is hosting an exciting new display by Ferruccio Laviani which is dedicated to the collection and inspired by the typical Memphis patterns and colours. The fit-out concept, which was also used by the Miami flagship store during Design Miami and the Cologne outlet during IMM Cologne, will be replicated in every Kartell store throughout the world. The store displays a motley scene, using colours and graphics which bring to mind the typical Memphis designs. Suprisingly, the collection is not lost amongst its surroundings; rather, its character is reinforced, showing that the products will invariably stand out, regardless of colour scheme.
This is without doubt a comprehensive and wide-reaching project that fits in perfectly with the brand's philosophy of starting from a product and ending up with an energetic and thrilling image. Kartell has placed itself at the heart of the international design scene, helping to pave a (yellow brick) road for the likes of other Memphis-inspired artists and designers such as Masquespacio, Kelly Behun and, a Domus Nova favourite, Camille Walala.