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Luxury dresses in plastic

By Sun Yuanqing (China Daily)

09:44, July 18, 2013

Kartell introduces its ultramodern furniture, such as the Masters Chair and Bourgie Lamp, to the Chinese market. (China Daily)

Kartell, an Italian brand known for its designer plastic furniture, has opened its first store in the Chinese mainland. Sun Yuanqing finds out more about the uniqueness of the new material.

Ultramodern plastic furniture looks cool in The Devil Wears Prada and Boston Legal, but how would they match with heavy wooden Chinese cabinets?

While most Chinese homes still prefer age-old furniture made from precious wood, some are going for a modern twist.

"China is now ready to understand luxury conveyed by minimalist design and new material, also to understand the difference between originals and copies. We are here to make them understand our philosophy and the world of industrial design," says Ferruccio Laviani, artistic director for Kartell, an Italian brand known for its designer plastic furniture.

"What we do is to make complements. You can take a transparent polycarbonate plastic chair and put it alongside an old piece of furniture handed down from the family. This would make a more interesting and personal style," he says.

Kartell opened its first mainland boutique in Beijing in late May.

"In the past, when we flew to Asia, it was more about Hong Kong and Singapore. But China (the mainland) has been a more interesting destination lately," he adds.

With more than 130 flagship stores and 220 in-store shops around the globe, Kartell is planning to open 50 stores in China within five years. Two will be opened in Shanghai and one in Chengdu, Sichuan province, later this year.

Aside from a handful of Western movies and television series, Kartell's designs have also appeared in a popular Chinese movie Go Lala Go!

Just as he believes that a furniture collection mirrors the characteristics of the owner, Laviani also advocates impromptu in the usage of furniture.

"For example, a bench could be used for sitting, as well as a table. It's up to you how to use it."

Kartell could be a role model for Chinese home designers, said Steve Leung, Hong Kong-based architect and interior designer, as he attended the opening ceremony of the Beijing store.

"The way they use plastic to make unique modern furniture is very refreshing and prospective. There are so many opportunities coming out of the new techniques and materials that Chinese home designers can explore, just like Kartell did," Leung says.

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