Here is a follow-up on our previous discussion on form and function. Let’s explore another fine example of Louis Sullivan’s most famous quote.

This humble ladder is a design triumph.

When you think of a stepladder, you think of solving the problem of height. Ladders are meant to get you to high places that are beyond reach. But to designer Andries Van Onck, the functions of a stepladder encompass more than just that. His design, Kartell Tiramisu, is deceptively simple and yet surprisingly versatile.

The Tiramisu is another a wonderful blend of form and function. It has a very slim profile, but yet is strong enough to support a maximum weight of 260 kg. Ladies can carry it around with no trouble, while appreciating its fine looks. The key difference in its design is that is doesn’t have an outer frame like the typical A-frame ladder. Instead, the steps are support by a central column. This allows the ladder to easily slip into spaces that are simply impossible for the conventional ladder. The Kartell Tiramisu is easy to open, fold and tuck away. But it’s not all beauty without brawn; The structure and material contribute to its elegance without compromising stability and safety. Furthermore, the steps and handle are slip-resistant, and you can even mount Tiramisu on a wall.

The problem with A-frame ladders.
The typical ladder is limited by its frame, and is unable to be positioned properly in certain situations.

Kartell Tiramisu in action
The Tiramisu can be positioned in tight spaces because of its unique design, bringing you closer to what you need to reach.

Good design results in an awesome user experience.

I personally own this product and use it every day. Each time I unfold it and step onto it, I am always in awe of the amount of care and thought that the designer must have poured into it. I’m still amazed whenever the Tiramisu effortlessly glides its steps between tabletops and cabinet shelves to provide me the best position. All this, and I still feel as stable and balanced as if I was still standing on the ground!

Kartell Tiramisu Stepladder is yet another great example of elegant practicality. Form and function are not mutually exclusive, and one need not be compromised for the other to triumph. Designs like this continue to inspire what we do at Mustard Seed Creative. We aren’t product designers, but we share the same ethos whenever we design logos or motion graphics. We constantly aspire to solve communication problems for our customers, while guarding the aesthetics and art.

Kartell Tiramisu Stepladder
Designer:Andries Van Onck
Year of Design:1991
Country of Origin:Italy


Founder/Creative Director of Mustard Seed Creative. Andrew has been 'practicing' as a creative professional since 1992 and 'preaching' as an educator since 2004.

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