Red Dot: Personality Prize 2022

Claudio Luti, owner and CEO of Kartell, receives honorary title

Claudio Luti successfully blends emotional design with high-tech materials. He has been at the helm of Kartell for 34 years. Many distinctive interior design objects have been created under his leadership. In addition, he is seen as a pioneer of modern industrial production, helping to make the city of Milan into a design metropolis. In 2022, the Red Dot Design Award is awarding the Red Dot: Personality Prize to Claudio Luti from Italy in recognition of his entrepreneurial accomplishments.

From relative outsider to successful entrepreneur

As the CEO of one of the best-known contemporary furniture manufacturers, Claudio Luti has transformed Kartell into a global lifestyle brand. Luti took over the firm at the end of the 1980s after marrying the daughter of company founders Giulio and Anna Castelli. At the time, he was a relative outsider. He had previously worked with Gianni Versace to establish the Versace fashion empire. When they moved in different directions professionally, it was the perfect opportunity for Claudio Luti to take over the Kartell company and apply his experience in the fashion industry to the furniture industry.

At this time, Kartell was mainly working with plastic. High oil prices and increasing environmental awareness were just two factors that prompted Luti to reinvent the brand. He sensed that consumers were no longer only buying things they needed. The new lifestyle was informed by aesthetics and design. Consumers were looking for products that expressed this new lifestyle emotionally as well as functionally.

Starck, Meda and Urquiola: Luti’s creative companions

The realignment of Kartell under Claudio Luti was a huge success. His principle was that good design is shaped by two different types of people – one type who is creative, and the other who knows the market. Together, they design and shape the world. With his deep understanding of the market, Claudio Luti got the biggest and best names in the industry on board as creatives – always as external designers. Philippe Starck, Vico Magistretti, Antonio Citterio, Patricia Urquiola, Alberto and Francesco Meda, Ron Arad and Tokujin Yoshioka were just some of the designers who worked with Claudio Luti to create present-day design icons.

Synthesis of innovative materials and aesthetic design

Materials and production methods were continually being refined. For example, in 1999 the company succeeded in bringing the first completely transparent chair to market. The chair, known as “La Marie”, was made from polycarbonate and weighed 3.5 kg. The iconic design by Philippe Starck in combination with the indestructible, non-toxic, shockproof and weather-resistant material marked the beginning of a long series of popular furniture made entirely from the transparent material.

Under the aegis of Claudio Luti, “La Marie” was followed by a whole range of innovative and durable lifestyle objects. Their design quality is reflected not least in the distinctions won in the Red Dot Design Award. For example, Kartell was awarded the Red Dot: Best of the Best five times. The Invisible table by Tokujin Yoshioka, the Uncle Jack sofa by Philippe Starck, the Piuma chair by Piero Lissoni, the Aledin desk lamp by Alberto and Francesco Meda and the Green-A floor lamp by Pietro Ferruccio Laviani have all been awarded the highest distinction in the competition for product design.

Red Dot: Personality Prize for creative achievement

Claudio Luti is a wonderful example of how important it is to develop a sense of innovation and design in order to achieve entrepreneurial success. Thanks to his strategy of combining marketing and sales, he has succeeded in making the brand tangible on a global level, beyond individual products. Today, Kartell is a company that looks to the future, with Claudio Luti joined at the helm by his children Lorenza and Federico. They came to the firm from different professional backgrounds following their university studies. Lorenza is now the firm’s Marketing and Retail Director, while Federico is Commercial Director. They are carrying on the story of this family-run company into the future.

Since 2020, the Red Dot: Personality Prize has been awarded to a creative leader who has succeeded in initiating major change and using opportunities to create something new. Claudio Luti is the second entrepreneur after Jean-Claude Biver to receive this honour.

Ceremonial handover of the trophy at the Salone del Mobile