PLASTIC IS FANTASTIC

It’s 1849. You’re wearing a whalebone corset and crinoline, or a top hat and frock coat. You start a plastics company, and why not? A bit of context: there are revolutions all over Europe, not just the fighting sort. The industrial revolution is in full swing. The telephone is yet to be invented (although a couple of Italian inventors have come close.) Two years ago, the United States issued their first ever postage stamps. About 10 years ago, a German botanist discovered that all plants are made from cells — a principle as essential to biology as atomic theory is to chemistry.

It’s 2014. (Remember, we’re going back in time.) KITE is starting up. KITE is pairing with Carl Zeiss, lens technologists for microscopy, astronomy and cinematography. Think legendary glass. And KITE is pairing with Mazzucchelli, cellulose acetate innovators and eyewear devotees. Think world-leading, game-changing, fantastic plastic.

In 1849 the Mazzucchelli family started a company that was all about innovating with new materials. They started playing with naturals, then celluloid — the first ‘thermoplastic’ — before moving on to cellulose acetate and bioplastic, derived from sustainable wood and cotton fibres.

Here’s the recipe (sort of): make paste of flaked cotton flowers, press repeatedly, pass through warm rollers, add organic colour powders, keep hot-rolling, cut into cubes and roll further for more intense colour. Allow to cool for several weeks.

This solid sheet of gorgeous stuff can now be worked by hand or machine. It can be textured, cut and layered. Its feel is warm and silky-soft.

There’s no recipe for the fine art of pattern and colour. And quality comes with expertise. The artisans at Mazzucchelli 1849 have been working on the possibilities for well over 150 years. This is where the plastic really does become fantastic.

Pure jewel colours. Milky creams. Neon. Horn. Brick. Rainbows. Dappled waters. Swirling stone. Shot taffeta. Pixellation. Fire. Moiré. Vintage carpet. Icing. Psychedelic wallpaper. Tangled ribbons. Agate. Jade. Amber. Tortoiseshell. Chocolate. Sci-fi screen. Art Deco. Escher. Grass. Chiffon. Pudding. Glazed porcelain. The sky at sunset.

The possibilities, as they say, are endless. No, they’re end-tips! And lens bars. And frames. KITE frames. Fantastic.

The making of KITE bespoke acetate

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