Kartell, founded in 1949, is one of the first companies in Europe to use plastic materials for the production of design furniture, furnishing accessories and home accessories.
The guideline that has characterized Kartells over sixty years of activity is the idea of combining the technological and industrial aspect, necessary to respond to specific economic and social needs, to the cultural and aesthetic one. In this sense, Kartell is one of the leading interpreters of industrial design in the panorama of Italian and international companies.
At the end of the 1950s, the evolution in technological design experimentation leads, with great intuition, to the creation of the Labware Division for the supply of technical articles for laboratories; a division able to make the best use of materials such as polypropylene, polystyrene, polyethylene and to offer plastic as a valid alternative to glass due to its lightness, strength, economy and safety.
In 1958, thanks to the experience of the Housewares Division, it has already gained a good knowledge of industrial production and is open to new development opportunities. Giulio Castelli, a graduate in chemical engineering, has the technical mastery to evaluate these new opportunities wisely.
The chemical-physical specifications, the characteristics of unbreakability and the search for materials, give the new plastics great advantages over glass and make them interesting also for the production of laboratory items such as beakers, cylinders, funnels and test tubes. From the first experiences Giulio Castelli entrusts the design of the Labware objects to his designers, Gino Colombini first and Centrokappa after: a choice that is one of the keys to the success of the Division.
As already done with housewares, Gino Colombini tackles the design of technical articles by tracing innovative formal solutions, with small or large changes to the traditional form of the object that improve its functionality. Proof of this, among others, are the long-stemmed funnels of 1962, with small ribs on the inside to prevent the filter paper from sticking to the surface or the test tube holder from 1959, for which Colombini identifies a new modular solution with "X" comb elements that replace the traditional support with overlapping planes with large holes. Or again, from Centrokappa from 1979, the First EYE first aid in which the support also has a signaling function.
For the realization of its Labware articles, Kartell uses over forty different plastic materials: the Division is a technological gym where the company conducts research on materials and identifies the most suitable technologies for each individual product.
The choice of plastics to be used depends on the different applications of the articles; for this reason in the production process there are important elements such as concentrations and times of contact with chemical agents, aging, thermal stress, aggressive detergents, exposure to U.V. radiation, sterilization and other environmental effects.
Having always favored quality, the use of ever more advanced technologies, the choice of the range of items in the catalogue, makes the Kartell image and name recognized worldwide.