The Componibili 3 Shelf Cabinet is a classic symbol of modern Italian design, which delivers beauty, practicality and value forty years after its inception.
In 1949 Anna Castelli Ferreri, a young, ambitious architect and industrial designer, formed Kartell, a manufacturing company in Milan with her husband Giullo Castelli, a chemical engineer. They had one goal – introduce plastic to the home – and they achieved it. Along with a generation of post-war Italian designers, they helped revolutionize the materials and techniques used in design today.
The Componibili, the most iconic example of their work, was first produced in 1969. After 40 years it is still stunningly contemporary and slots effortlessly into modern and minimalist interiors. The current design has evolved but Kartell’s signature silhouette, style and proportions continue. Shown in white, with three sections, the Componibili is also available in black, silver and red, and in a shorter two shelf version.
Older models with stackable sections and retro colours – like 70’s yellow – can be found in retro furniture shops and through specialist dealers, but Kartell remains the only licensed manufacturer to this day.
All in all, we love the Componibili because it’s practical, flexible and fun, but most of all we love that after all these years we can still have our own piece of a Italian design history at the right price.
How to spot a fake Componibili
So how do the replicas stack up? Although imitations are widely available they’re only marginally cheaper than the genuine article.
FINISH Comparing the two, we noticed a big difference in form and function. The colour and finish of the real Componibili is superior, well-balanced and warm off-white compared with the stark white replica, which looked quite harsh and sterile.
DOORS Functionally the real unit’s sliding doors were smooth and easy to open while the replica required some extra persuasion – we had to use two hands!
COLOUR Today authentic Componibili storage units are produced by Kartell in white, black, red and silver. However, Kartell Italy have released a special edition dark teal unit. The limited edition Pantone 303c Componibili is only available within the Australian market and is set to become a collectors item.
This little table’s hard wearing characteristics make it popular in kids bedrooms and bathrooms, but it’s equally suited to kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms and offices – both commercial and domestic – and as a contrast piece.
PHOTOGRAPHY Toby Scott
PRODUCTION & STYLING Lynda Evans
WORDS Cam Taylor