Today I am back with another episode of my “History of Design” section. After the Arco lamp, today I decided to talk about another icon of Italian design known all over the world. It is the Componibili storage system produce by Kartell and designed by Anna Castelli Ferrieri in 1967. The Componibili has become so iconic over the time that, 50 years later, is still among Kartell’s best sellers and it is exhibited in the permanent collections of the Modern Museum of Art in New York and the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris.
Anna Castelli Ferrieri was an Italian architect and designer, one of the first Italian women graduated in architecture and one of the few women in the design sector in those years. She is known for her collaboration with Kartell, a company founded by her husband in 1949 and a pioneer in Italy in research and production of everyday plastic objects.
The Componibili, initially called “mobili 4970/84”, were first presented in 1967 at the Salone del Mobile in Milan and reflect the idea of Anna Castelli Ferrieri of a design that should not only be beautiful but also functional.
The Componibili fully reflect the design trends of the early 1960s, years of economic boom and full development of the industry. In these years, objects were designed to be not only beautiful but also functional in order to meet the needs of modern life. Industrialization was increasingly applied also to the world of design, with the serial production process that also became an aesthetic reference. Plastic was the material that characterized these years under the motto “plastic is fantastic” (the trend will change towards the end of the 1960s with the arrival of the youth revolution, the hippy culture, the London cultural influences such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and then in the 70s as a result of the oil crisis). Plastic objects in the early 1960s represented modernity and progress: they responded to the demands of serial production, flexibility, modularity, lightness.
The Componibili storage units were immediately appreciated for their functionality and modularity: the container elements can be superimposed without the help of screws or pins but thanks to a simple interlocking shape. They can be assembled freely in different compositions in terms of color and number of shelves. The storage units have a sliding opening characterized by a hole instead of the handle. They were also the first injection-molded ABS plastic assembled components.
The Componibili also respond to the aesthetics of those years, where the objects were mainly mono-material and monochromatic, characterized by strong shades, saturated and optical colors (such as white, red, orange, yellow) and high contrasts.
What to say, an icon of Italian design that fifty years later continues to be modern.
1. Photo credit: Anna Holst – 2. Photo credit: Finnish Design Shop