A Changed World of Industrial Design from B&B Italia
When it comes to modern, Italian furniture, no one is more influential than B&B Italia. Since 1966, B&B Italia has revolutionized modern furniture thanks to the innovation of founder Piero Ambrogio Busnelli, who has cultivated a global company into the mainstream thanks to expertly designed and trendsetting furniture. Today, B&B Italia furniture has continued to stun and remain in demand that continues to define modernity well into the 21st century. Follow along with Joshua Kodner for the inside scoop!
Busnelli Worked at His Family’s Furniture Store and Had Big Dreams
Born in 1926 in Meda, Italy, Busnelli grew up poor, but nevertheless ambitious. Living in the furniture capital of Italy, he worked at his family’s furniture company alongside his brother and hoped to become an entrepreneur later in life. This experience was transformative for Busnelli—whose furniture at the time had to be assembled by hand—to dream of a more efficient way to put furniture together. Visiting a trade fair in London, Busnelli saw machines mass producing toy ducks out of cold polyurethane foam and saw the potential this material and technology would have on furniture production. He couldn’t have been more right at the potential. The advantages of cold polyurethane foam were clear, as Busnelli’s furniture had more product durability and uniform shapes than traditional handmade furniture.
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Earning Recognition for Innovation
By 1966, Busnelli had created the world’s first fully automated and industrialized furniture factory. This well-tuned mass production of furniture garnered the attention of Italians everywhere—including Cesare Cassina, founder, and owner of Cassina Furniture, who met with Busnelli and offered to join his company. Together, the two formed C&B and began working with gifted designers like Afra and Tobia Scarpa, Gaetano Pesce, and Mario Bellini. Their designs were fruitful: the Scarpas’ armchair, the Coronado, became so popular that C&B could not catch up with demand. C&B’s popularity skyrocketed, so much that C&B was actually outperforming Cassina’s own company. By 1973, Busnelli recognized the value of his company and bought Cassina’s shares while also renaming the company B&B Italia.
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Skillfully Designed Collaborations and Furniture Productions
In addition to creating an entirely new way to industrialize furniture production, B&B Italia was also famous for its futuristic furniture. Gaetano Pesce’s UP Series proved to be distinctive with its use of expressive shapes that were a metaphor for the female figure and her womb and how she was a prisoner—a thoughtful mix between art and functionality. Mario Bellini’s series, Le Bambole, also walked the line of innovation with the form of a sofa that is seemingly carved out of a singular block and is sculpted. Le Bambole was a smash hit, as the sofa championed comfort and softness. Bellini’s sofa was awarded the Compasso d’Oro in 1979, which is the most prestigious Italian award for industrial design, which brought the company into wider global recognition. By the 1980s, B&B Italia would go on to win two more Compasso d’Or’s, cementing itself as one of the world’s leading furniture designers.
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The Legacy of B&B Italia Furniture
It is undisputed that B&B Italia is one of the most influential and modern furniture companies to exist in the 21st century. What is also inarguable is the sheer quality of B&B Italia’s products—the craftsmanship and production standards are unbeatable, and allow B&B’s furniture to last longer than a lifetime with proper care. It’s this attention to quality, as well as legacy in design and innovation, that has allowed the company to open over 800 stores around the globe and has opened doors to prestigious collaboration. B&B Italia has had the honor of furnishing the Bulgari Hotels in both Milan and London, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Barcelona, as well as the Conservatorium Hotel in Amsterdam, and continues to form meaningful partnerships.
Demand Is Still Mounting for B&B Italia’s Vintage Products
Thanks to Busnelli’s original, durable, and brilliant way to produce furniture, B&B Italia has continued to remain in demand since the founding of the company over fifty years ago. That remains true to this day, where demand for B&B Italia’s vintage products is on the rise. Designer furnishings have grown immensely in popularity, and B&B Italia is no different. Original versions of Bellini’s Le Bambole, as well as Pesce’s UP Series and the Scarpas’ armchair, have been sought-after pieces, along with pieces from designers like Antonio Citterio, Ludovico Magistretti, and Marco Zanusco.
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Owning a Piece of B&B Italia
B&B Italia is unbeatable–every piece of furniture is guaranteed to hold or even increase its value. The expert craftsmanship from B&B Italia is unrivaled in design and durability. If you’re interested in owning a piece of industrial design history, it may be best to go to an auction house as they often have the best deals. However, be sure to go to a reputable source you can trust, like Joshua Kodner. With over decades of experience, you can be sure that each piece of furniture has met the rigorous standards of Joshua Koder’s team. Visit our blog for the latest news and trends.
Photo Credit: B&B Italia