Barbie and Kartell: an interview with Mattel’s Chris Down

Mattel it doesn’t stop. After a trip to the movies (needless to say, we’re talking about director Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie, which has been talked about all summer and beyond), it comes that in design. Specifically, cooperation with Cartela range of children’s chairs that reproduce the brand’s iconic models (AI, Venice, Louis Ghost, Masters, Ero/s), but in color pink barbie, to seat our favorite dolls stylishly and beautiful to collect. The latest collaboration in a long, really long series. Those with Murakami, Shantelle Martin, Off White and Hot Wheels are worth mentioning. We talked with Chris DownMattel’s Chief Design Officer, on the occasion of Design Week, which has colored Milan for a week, making it more alive and stimulating than ever, full of ideas and opportunities.

A Barbie chair becomes a Kartell

“This is my first Design Week. It was very constructive to be around other creatives, to listen to them. On these occasions, design was not just part of the conversation, it was an important part of the conversation,” he told us. And Barbie is participating in this conversation next to Kartell. How does the world’s most popular doll fit into this industry? For Chris Downe lies the answer to that question in the soul itself of Barbie: “If we think about its origins, when founder Ruth Handler observed her daughter and the way she played with paper dolls, we understand that design has always been essential to Barbie. A modern doll that was born when there were only dolls and paper dolls, created a new way of imagination, thinking, inspired whole generations Thanks to Barbie, a little girl thought she could become an astronaut, a teacher, a politician It was the moment when Barbie opened the door to the present and the future, the character of Barbie changed from 10 possibilities to hundreds of thousands, and that’s why it still speaks to people, and that’s why the film became a phenomenon, because it started from a rich human reality.

There is something that would make this fruitful encounter physically possible Mattel Creations, a creative platform where products are designed, created and produced without restrictions, but in limited editions. “Barbie has always been part of the world of design and fashion. The combination of Mattel and the world of design has always made sense. Barbie is not just a doll, it is also a world she lives in that builds a dream. Furniture has always played an important role in the life of our character. It was natural to work with Kartell”, which also performed in Milan two “adult” size reproductions from the entire collection, with limited edition Masters and Louis Ghost chairs available at “Behind Mattel Creation is a real laboratory of creative and innovative ideas that uses our brands and connects them with partners, but also with artists. We usually work with large retailers. This time we decided to reach a different consumer, an adult who loves design. The result is a designer toy for adults, collectable and high-end, which combines the world of Barbie with the world of the highest quality, but it cannot be ruled out that some products will explode and become very popular.” Result? Product culturally relevant which does not lose its toy soul in the best sense of the word.

The closing circle: from Mattel to design, passing through the dolls

When asked what the most important phase of a project is, in fact the key, Chris Down responds by embracing this concept: “The first thing is to think about the end consumer. Ask yourself if the product is consumer-focused.” We ask ourselves if it makes sense, what sense does it make, for those who make sense, then we ask ourselves if it is possible to play with it, finally if it is culturally relevant, if it connects with reality , which surrounds us, we focus a lot on making it excellent.” Then he tells us surprising detailwhich brings us back to furniture and design again, proves that the connection has always been there, and it’s very strong: “When the company started – in 1945, before Ruth Handler invented the doll in 1959 – it made plastic frames and doll furniture was used to making furniture for dolls.

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