Kartell was founded by Giulio Castelli and Anna Castelli Ferrieri in 1949 in Milan - Italy. Anna Castelli Ferrieri was an architect and one of the first women to graduate at the Milan Polytechnic Institute with a degree in architecture. Her husband Guillio Castelli was a chemical engineer and student to Nobel laureate Giulio Natta. Together they had a dream of 'producing objects with innovative characteristics that could apply new manufacturing technologies, make economical use of materials and employ efficient processes'. With this goal in mind Kartell was created in 1949. Initially they started developing car accessories and domestic products. Lighting and laboratory equipment were added to the brand in 1958 and the Habitat collection of furniture and furnishings were introduced in 1963

In 1988 the company was acquired by Cleudio Luti, the son-in-law of Guilio and Anna Castelli who had a background in fashion. He is still head of the firm, but shares it with his children Lorenza and Federico. 

Kartell is still a family company and this comes back in their heritage and culture. Over the past 70 years they have worked together with a long list of famous designers, architects and artists like: Philippe Starck, Joe Colombo, Giotto StoppinoMario Bellini, Alberto Meda and Vico Magistretti. They have won the Compasso d'Oro's nine times!

In 1999 Kartell opened
The Kartell Museum just outside Milan, to celebrate the brand’s 50th anniversary and to tell the extraordinary story of the marriage between plastic and design. The museum is designed by Anna Castellie Ferrieri and Ignazio Gardella and is a key part of the brand's heritage. It contains over 1000 objects from Kartell's history. The museum received the Best Business Museum award from the Guggenheim Foundation and their collection have been loaned to the MoMa in New York, Triennale di Milano, Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Bundesunsthalle in Bonn.