As molded plywood and fiberglass are to Charles Eames, so too, it must be said, is polycarbonate to Philippe Starck. If it’s possible for technological innovation to perfectly dovetail with the imaginative ambitions of designers, than it’s not a stretch to say that, without Philippe Starck, the material known as injection molded polycarbonate might not have caught on quite so artfully.
When Kartell unveiled Starck’s La Marie Chair at the 2000 Milan Furniture Fair, it launched not only the world’s first fully transparent chair, but instantly turned a composite material thought to be too expensive and unsuitable for mass production into an exciting new technological reality. And with the arrival of Kartell’s immediately indelible Louis Ghost Chair, a year later, transparency was on its way to segueing from fresh new trend to full-fledged modern furniture movement.
Technology is meaningless without an outlet for expression, of course, and what’s clear about Kartell’s light and ethereal polycarbonate is how ideally suited it is to Philippe Starck—who has somehow managed the feat of being taken seriously even while seeming to approach his job lightheartedly. In any case, does anyone else appear to be having more fun with the process of designing than Starck? Luckily for Kartell—and for those of us still beguiled by La Marie and Louis Ghost—we can joyfully answer ‘no.’