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 “Giulio Castelli. Entrepreneurial culture in the design system” is an exhibition curated by Federica Sala that, on the centenary of his birth, ADI-Association for Industrial Design is dedicating to the entrepreneur Giulio Castelli. One of the founding fathers of the association itself and its first president, his contribution was fundamental in founding the Italian design system and in giving recognition to the profession of designer.

A chemical engineer and student of future Nobel Prize winner for chemistry Professor Giulio Natta, Giulio Castelli was the founder of Kartell, a leading company in the industrial production of design objects in plastic.

Right from the outset of his career, the Milanese entrepreneur was part of a group of technicians and artists who worked tirelessly to achieve the recognition of quality design in Italian manufacturing and together with Gillo Dorfles, Ignazio Gardella, Vico Magistretti, Bruno Munari, Angelo Mangiarotti, Marcello Nizzoli, Antonio Pellizzari, Enrico Peressutti, Alberto Rosselli and Albe Steiner, in 1956 he was a member of the promoting committee of ADI, the Association for Industrial Design. However, his longest working and intellectual partnership was with his wife, the architect Anna Castelli Ferrieri. Thanks to her affinity and closeness with exponents of the Modern Movement, Anna brought a design culture with her that went on to become the backbone of the company.

Castelli was presented with a special recognition on the 50th anniversary of the ADI Compasso d’Oro Award and in 2004, the mayor of Milan Gabriele Albertini conferred on him the city’s highest award, the Ambrogino d’Oro.

Among Kartell’s most important and innovative products, there is the round bucket with polyethylene lid designed by Gino Colombini and for which the company recieved its first Compasso d’Oro Award; then there is the stackable chair for children designed by Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper which was the first piece of furniture in the Kartell collection and the first chair in the world made entirely in plastic.

it was precisely for its “corporate policy based on the consistency of the design of its products and on constant research and evolutionary image” that the company was awarded the Compasso d’Oro in 1979.

Federica Sala


curated by
Federica Sala

graphic design by
Carlo Forcolini

progetto grafico
Franco Achilli e Paola Pelizzi

work supervision by
Matteo Vercelloni

set up

The exhibition was made possible thanks to the loans from the Kartell Museo and Valerio Castelli archives. We thank also all the museums, institutions, archives, companies and private realities which have collaborated on the completion of the project, in particular: Kartell, Nicola Castelli, Elisa Storace, Archivio Anna Castelli Ferrieri, Matteo Iannello, Pinuccia Gilardone, Archivio Ugo Mulas, Alessandra Pozzati, Manlio e Armida Armellini, Giancarlo Soldi, Emilio Tremolada, Francesca Picchi, Simona Pesarini.

photo credits
Kartell Museo, Valerio Castelli, Archivio Storico Fondazione Fiera Milano ©, Ugo Mulas Photos © Eredi Ugo Mulas. Tutti i diritti riservati, Chris Moyse.

technical sponsor

Giulio Castelli with Zanuso, Ponti and Steiner
Spremi-limoni 1481 - ph. Santi Caleca 2011
Seggiolina K1340 - ph. Santi Caleca 2011