In addition to its excellent abrasion and weather resistance, polycarbonate [PC] also exhibits a fine transparent quality. For these reasons, designers are gradually using it for their creations in preference to polymethyl methacrylate [PMMA], which breaks more easily and is susceptible to scratching. Philippe Starck used PC in his design for the Marie chair, the first transparent chair to be moulded in a single piece. From then on, Starck declared his intention of no longer producing signed objects, but creating archetypes instead. The Marie is an expression of this mission, as its design corresponds to the basic idea of what is meant by the word “chair” : four legs, a seat and a back. With a touch of humour, he gave it the female name Marie, equally archetypal in its way. Kartell, which produces this item, provided crucial backing. Claudio Luti, former Managing Director of Gianni Versace and Castelli’s son-in-law, took over Kartell in 1988. From then on, the company supported designers like Philippe Starck and Ron Arad [b.1958] in their projects. This was a financial godsend for designers and provided Kartell with a new lease of life, prompting a number of commentators to speak of the family firm’s “re-birth”. Indeed, Luti was keen to update the company’s vision, but without losing the soul of the brand. He understood the vital importance of changing the image of plastic products which, in the early 1980s, were condemned as outdated and environmentally unfriendly. Luti emphasised the personalities of his designers, drew attention to recyclable plastics, and changed the names of the products, moving from numbers to evocative titles. Philippe Starck continued working with transparent material, creating the Louis Ghost and Victoria Ghost chairs in 2002 and 2005 respectively. These models, both also produced by Kartell, have enjoyed huge commercial success.

After graduating from the Camondo School in Paris, PHILIPPE STARCK [b.1949] began his career by designing inflatable furniture for Quasar. He then worked as Art Director for Pierre Cardin. He established his own firm, Starck Products, in 1980, and subsequently produced designs for major manufacturers such as Flos, Driade and Kartell. It was also during this period that he made a name for himself.In 1981, he was one of eight designers chosen to refurnish the apartments at the Élysée Palace. In 1983, he was commissioned to refurnish the private apartments used by French President François Mitterrand [1916-1996]. From the very beginning of his career, Philippe Starck has always regarded aesthetic appeal as an essential aspect of furniture design. To this end, he mixes French historical references with futuristic touches.

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