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Plastic is hardly en vogue these days with young designers. But that doesn't mean that the petroleum byproduct is going away. For decades, remember, plastic was the stuff of brilliant, forward-thinking design. You might call those decades the Kartell era.

Carbon polymers were never in better hands than with the Italian company Kartell. Founded in 1949 by a chemical engineer, the company's collaboration with designer Gino Colombini ushered in an era of award-winning and useful designs. The golden age of plastic had Anna Castelli Ferrieri and Joe Colombo designing for Kartell. More recently, the Starck Ghost Chair has revived that high level of chic utility that's the hallmark of Kartell. Taschen's latest book surveys the company's history decade-by-decade with an eye-popping array of historical shots.

Kartell is $ 69.99 at taschen.com