Anna Castelli Ferrieri, the plastic touch of Italian design’s golden era

Famous for her reinterpretation of ordinary elements, Anna Castelli Ferrieri built a plastic empire of mass-produced, well-designed objects.

One of only three women in her class, Anna Castelli Ferrieri studied architecture at the Milan Polytechnic Institute, where she met the Italian Neo-Rationalist architect Franco Albini, who introduced her to the ideas of Bauhaus and to a design method based on functionality and simplicity, soon becoming her mentor.

In 1946 Ferrieri Castelli established her own practice and three years later, along with her husband, the chemical engineer Giulio Castelli, founded the company that will change forever how a popular material as plastic is evaluated and employed: Kartell.

A rationalist woman

During the ’60s Anna Ferrieri Castelli established a joint practice with one of the most significant Italian rationalist architects, Ignazio Gardella.

During this period the duo worked on many architectural projects: among the others, the Alfa Romeo factory buildings in Arese and the Kartell headquarters in Noviglio, now a museum, considered one of the most interesting examples of Italian industrial architecture.

Curious to know more about Kartell? Head to Brand Story – Kartell

Anna Castelli Ferrieri - Kartell Museum
The Kartell headquarters in Noviglio, now a museum, considered one of the most interesting examples of Italian industrial architecture

Kartell Dining Table – 1964

It wasn’t until 1964 that Ferrieri Castelli designed her first piece for Kartell.

Belonging to a new generation of designers, interested in the possibilities presented by new technologies and materials, Anna Ferrieri Castelli and Ignazio Gardella designed for a palace in Venice a round Dining Table made of polyester resin, reinforced with glass fiber.

Still sought after by collectors and vintage lovers, the table represents the first example of a mix between traditional Italian design combined with modern approaches and affordable materials that will be the key to Kartell’s huge success.

Anna Castelli Ferrieri - Kartell Dining Table
Anna Ferrieri Castelli’s first piece for Kartell was a round dining table designed for a palace made of polyester resin and reinforced with glass fiber

A godmother for Kartell

It was always her intention to create everyday objects that should be well-designed and functional: Kartell’s art director between 1976 and 1987, Anna Castelli Ferrieri is part of a narrative that focuses on the development of modern plastics for the improvement of lives and of product design itself.

Castelli Ferrieri helped to forge the company’s distinctive identity with iconic pieces such as the 4870 Side Chair, that won her the Compasso D’Oro in 1986, for balancing economy, purpose and technology, or the futuristic 4814 Armchair.

Anna Castelli Ferrieri - 4814 Armchair
The 4870 Side Chair and the futuristic 4814 Armchair, both iconic pieces that helped forge Kartell’s distinctive identity

4970/84 a.k.a Kartell Componibili

Although Anna Castelli Ferrieri’s most iconic and famous contribution to the Kartell’s collection is the Componibili system: truly versatile, stackable and modular, the units have a place in both the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the NY MoMA. In continuous production since 1967, they still are one of Kartell’s best seller.

Anna Castelli Ferrieri - Kartell Componibili
The Componibili system is Castelli Ferrieri’s most iconic and famous contribution to the Kartell’s collection

Sambonet Hannah Flatware collection – 1992

In 1994 Anna Castelli Ferrieri won another Compasso D’Oro, for the Sambonet Hannah Flatware collection: realized with a cold-pressing instead of the traditional forging, the Hannah Flatware is a new interpretation of an everyday classical design object where the functionality and the aesthetic of each single element blend in a harmonious ensemble, the result of extensive research into the history of the 1700s ‘a filet’ models.

Find out more about female masters in the design field, don’t miss Design Icon – Charlotte Perriand

Anna Castelli Ferrieri - Sambonet Hannah Flatware collection
The Hannah Flatware is a new interpretation of an everyday, classical object of design
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