By  on April 25, 2008

Kartell can't get enough fashion.

Dolce & Gabbana, Blumarine, Dsquared, Moschino and fine jeweler Vhernier joined forces with the 60-year-old Kartell to create exhibitions or in-store installations during Salone del Mobile.

The Milan-based furniture firm laid the foundations for strong relationships with fashion houses long before any of its competitors did. Claudio Luti, Kartell's chairman, said, "Today, home furnishings isn't only relegated to architects and interior designers, but have become lifestyle products that people buy on an impulse and not only when you get married or set up a home after a divorce."

Kartell presented 20 pieces at the fair, including Philippe Starck's Hi-Cut chair that can be personalized with a colored strip in the back, Tokujin Yoshioka's woven-effect chair and Antonio Citterio's folding trolley with a metal frame.

Stefano Gabbana said, "Kartell is a company that managed to create a unique language that is immediately recognizable throughout the international design scenario thanks to the use of plastic materials that have become its distinctive element."

Colored or clear polycarbonate have helped Kartell chart a new course for industrial design. The material, for which researching new textures can be a three-year undertaking, is molded into lamps, chairs, side tables, vases and sofas.

Kartell, whose sales in 2007 reached $183 million at current exchange rates, operates 120 flagships and counts 4,000 sale points worldwide. Between May and July, Kartell will open 30 more stores, most of which will be located in Central and South America.

As for the fashion angle, the different interpretations by designers further proved Kartell's flexibility. "Our pieces have to last in time, but also be sexy and trendy and work in eclectic settings," said Luti.

Indeed, at Metropol, Dolce & Gabbana's show venue, the catwalk was replaced with a lineup of colorful Kartell lamps designed by creative director Ferruccio Laviani. Each group of lamps, from the Baroque Bourgie to the strobe-light-looking Xanadu, was on display with a chart illustrating its history.

Considering Blumarine designer Anna Molinari installed a dozen Kartell Bourgie lamps, in an exclusive fuchsia, in her boutique to flank her dainty, rose-printed Blumarine china and linens that made for a latter-day "Little House on the Prairie" look.Over at Dsquared, the installation "Seven D2Warfs Squared" made for a woodsy take on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Designers Dean and Dan Caten installed Kartell's staple dwarf-shaped mini tables in their Milan store. The colorful dwarves stole the spotlight in the window display, resting on a carpet of dry leaves and pine cones and acting as ledges for the duo's colorful and sexy spring looks.

Moschino Cheap & Chic also flaunted its humorous side. The brand chose to reinterpret the storied Louis Ghost chair with what it does best — clothes. To wit, the transparent chair was covered with made-to-measure frilly and tiered dresses, created from white tulle. The chairs and their "ghostly outfits" as designer Rossella Jardini referred to them, sat in the store windows, surrounded by colorful summer fare.

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