Claudio Luti manages to connect emotional design with high-tech materials. He has been head of the Kartell company for 34 years. His leadership has led to the creation of highly distinctive items of furniture. He is also considered to be one of the pioneers of modern industrial production and has played a major role in making Milan a metropolis of design. In 2022, the Red Dot Design Award pays tribute to his entrepreneurial prowess with the “Red Dot: Personality Prize”.
Professor Dr Peter Zec on the success of the entrepreneur
“With the decisions he took, Claudio Luti not only turned over a new leaf for his company, but also kick-started a new design era. For decades, he has demonstrated a sure feel for the needs and desires of consumers, which he has answered with long-lasting, iconic items of furniture created together with the most renowned designers in the world.” Thus, Professor Peter Zec, commenting on the conferral of the honorary title.
He is living proof of the critical role a sense for innovation and design play in achieving commercial success. With his strategy of combining marketing and sales, he has managed to go beyond an individual product and make an entire brand come alive for a global audience. “Luti has shown us that ongoing success requires more than world-renowned designs. The constant development of materials and manufacturing processes highlights his desire not to rest on his laurels but to continue pushing for success. This entrepreneurial spirit drives an entire sector. The conferral of the honorary ‘Red Dot: Personality Prize’ title underscores his achievement. My heartfelt congratulations on his triumph,” Zec said.
The presentation of the Red Dot: Personality Prize took place during the Salone del Mobile in Milan.
A lateral move that led to success
As the CEO of one of the best-known contemporary furniture companies, Claudio Luti has transformed Kartell into a global lifestyle brand. The son-in-law of founders Giulio and Anna Castelli took over the company at the end of the 1980s in a lateral career move. Prior to that, he had worked with Gianni Versace on building the latter’s eponymous fashion empire. When they went their separate ways, Luti had the opportunity of taking over Kartell and transferring his experience of the fashion world to the furniture industry.
At this time, Kartell was primarily working with plastic. High oil prices and growing environmental awareness are two of the reasons why Luti felt compelled to relaunch the brand. He could sense that consumers were no longer only making purchases out of necessity. The new lifestyle was defined by aesthetics and design and had to not only be functional but also find emotional expression.
Luti’s creative partners
The new direction of the company under Claudio Luti was crowned by success. But he stayed true to his principle: good design is shaped by two different types – those who are creative and those who know the market. Together, they design the world.
Knowing the market, he always took on board the creatives as external designers. They are the great, well-known names of the industry. Together with Claudio Luti, Philippe Starck, Vico Magistretti, Antonio Citterio, Patricia Urquiola, Alberto and Francesco Meda, Ron Arad and Tokujin Yoshioka develop today’s iconic designs.
The Red Dot: Personality Prize
Since 2020, the honorary “Red Dot: Personality Prize” has been awarded to a creative leader who has succeeded in initiating a significant transformation, making the most of opportunities and creating something new. After Jean-Claude Biver, Claudio Luti is the second entrepreneur to receive this award.