On the occasion of the imm Cologne furniture fair in January 2018, the Italian plastics specialist Kartell presented a special exhibition: Fabio Novembre showed his latest designs for the company, including the »Lantern« luminaire. For the lighting magazine LICHT, Andrea Mende met the Italian architect together with Claudio Luti, CEO of Kartell, for an interview in the Kartell showroom in Cologne.

Kartell is known as a design-oriented and innovative company in the field of plastics processing. Founded in Milan in 1949 by Giulio Castelli, the company has established itself worldwide with a wide range of products, including furniture, lighting and home accessories, laboratory materials and collections in the fashion and tableware sectors. Since 1988, Claudio Luti has headed the company. Working with international designers Kartell has produced some striking design objects, including Philippe Starck’s »La Marie« chair (1999), the first transparent chair to be made of polycarbonate. Transparency and surface design play a major role at Kartell, also for the »Lantern« luminaires. For their design, Claudio Luti brought the architect Fabio Novembre on board, who creates showroom and boutique projects for well-known fashion labels and curates exhibitions, for example for the Triennale Design Museum or Expo Milan (2015). He planned the entire interior design for the headquarters of the A.C. Milan football club, and his product design includes furniture and sculptural objects.

Kartell’s CEO Claudio Luti (left) and Fabio Novembre presented their new products during the 2018 furniture fair in Cologne. Claudio Luti is also President of the Milan Furniture Fair »Salone del Mobile«.

LICHT: Fabio, how did you come to design a lamp for Kartell?

Fabio Novembre: »Lantern« was my first lamp. I’m an architect. The lighting theme wasn’t interesting enough for me until then, it seemed too decorative. And what I do is not decorative. At first it was difficult, I felt almost like Dante in the »Divine Comedy« when he walked through a dark, impregnable forest.

LIGHT: What is the challenge of working with plastics?

Fabio Novembre: It is exciting to combine design and technology, to deal with the topics of colour and transparency. The lamp should be rechargeable and also waterproof. It is a very expressive object and for me it was the first time that I have worked in the industrial design sector. Kartell was the only suitable manufacturer for me. It took two years to develop »Lantern« to find the right balance between cost and lighting efficiency.

Claudio Luti: Industrial design works with the best quality at a good price. A product should be long-lasting and assert itself on the market, it is also always about competition.

LICHT: Fabio, how did you choose the colours for »Lantern«?

Fabio Novembre: I love colours! If you asked me about my favorite colour, my answer would be the rainbow. When Claudio said we only make five colours, I said first: no way! But the palette works.

LICHT: Fabio, as an architect, how do you see your task as a designer in this case?

Fabio Novembre: We are realistic dreamers. This is the reality of life. I don’t want to be an artist, I want to be a designer. We do things for people. And working with people means fine tuning. As a designer I orientate myself on the ideas of the company.

Photos: Kartell

The whole interview was published in LICHT 3/18.

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