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The Componibili Turn 50

The ADAM – Brussels Design Museum, in collaboration with Milan’s Kartell Museo, is presenting a tribute to Anna Castelli Ferrieri’s Componibili furniture

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Text by Rab Messina
Photography by C. Licoppe and ADAM - Design Museum Brussels

Architect and designer Anna Castelli Ferrieri had a plastic mind and a mind for plastic: in the late 60s, she was one of the first in her professional niche to realise the potential of the then-new ABS polymer. In 1967 she turned the thermoplastic into the Componibili, a series of modular furniture for Kartell that responded to the living needs of a younger audience.

Today, 50 years after the project became a reality, the ADAM – Brussels Design Museum —in collaboration with Lombardy’s Kartellmuseo— is hosting A Tribute to Componibili, an emotional celebration of her vision.

“Anna Castelli Ferrieri was able to understand, often before her male colleagues, the living needs of her times and she responded with very functional products such as the Componibili, which bore out that concept of modularity and became a leitmotif lasting down through the following decades,” explained Arnaud Bozzini, ADAM’s exhibition director.

The modular pieces of furniture lent themselves to interpretation: instead of serving pre-defined living functions —say, a night table—, the items were customisable to the particular needs of their users. Five decades later, they are lending themselves to another type of interpretation: designers such as Ron Arad, Alessandro Mendini, Patricia Urquiola and the Missoni house prepared their customised versions of Componibili. What’s more, Belgian designers Unfold Design Studio, Xavier Lust and Muller Van Severen are presenting their new interpretations of the Milanese visionary’s furniture.

A Tribute to Componibili is on display until January 21

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A Kartell timeline
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The Componibili in use
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A tribute to Anna Castelli Ferrieri's contribution, left, on the wall
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Ron Arad's version
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Muller Van Severen's Componibili tower
A very Nendo interpretation
A very Nendo interpretation
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Philippe Starck's humorous take
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Xavier Lust's very happy Componibili
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Patricia Urquiola's take
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Designers and their Componibili
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