Welcome Black was Kartell's theme at Il Salone del Mobile this year, so when we saw three pairs of black footwear in amongst the new chairs, we thought, sure, why not? And shrugged it off. But the more we thought about it, the more we wondered why Kartell, obviously well-known for its focus on transparent polycarbonate chairs, would turn its attention to shoes. Plastic shoes, at that.
However, if we had seen the array of colours the three styles come in, we may have been quickly seduced ... We asked Lorenza Luti, director of marketing and retail for Kartell, and the brain behind the shoe collection, a few questions in order to pry out more.
Glue Cinderella, the first footwear release in 2008, a collaboration with .normaluisa.
Why did Kartell decide to branch out into shoes? Why not stick to furniture and labware?
For me, Kartell is not merely a design company, but an authentic lifestyle brand. It has been the leading brand in experimentation with plastics for over sixty years and has made transparency its trademark. Consequently, when I started to think about a range of shoes, it was natural to give the product our imprint.
The collections in fact are the fruit of Kartell's extensive knowledge of plastics and are mass-produced using injection-moulding technology that allows the creation of two-tone shoes combining transparent and opaque effects
Lady, just launched this spring.
While the idea of waterproof shoes is certainly appealing, one look at the plastic shoes and I think, "Uh-oh, blisters!" Also, I cannot imagine that feet would breathe very well in these. Now that the shoes have been out for over a year, what are Kartell's findings regarding these concerns?
We can only assume that the success of the Glue Cinderella flat led to the launch of the wedge and boot styles. A concern about Lady, the plastic peep-toe wedge is that when the foot gets sweaty, there could be a tendency for it to slip within the shoe. A little instability could lead to a twisted ankle. They look great, but what problems have been encountered?
No, the shoes are soft, comfortable and designed to have low cut uppers (the Glue Cinderella ballerina shoes) or blunt toe (the Lady platform sandals). The material, mass dyed technoplastic trvhnopolymer, is non-toxic and 100% recyclable.
This colourway is very Kartell.
It can be said that there is a distinctive look to Kartell furniture, whereas the line of shoes is based on simple classics. Are there plans to create a signature Kartell style?
No, Kartell will always work with the best designers of the world, a creative team which has created a particular feeling with Kartell through dialogue and ongoing exchange of ideas on projects until a perfect balance has been struck between their design experience and the company's potentialities and requirements.
Sofia will be available this fall and was designed in-house.
Are there plans to produce any styles for men?
No, plastic shoes for men are a niche and we are not interested in exploring that segment. Nevertheless, we will surely increase our fashion collection soon with new collaborations and other accessories.
Hmm...we are going to have to take this further ...