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B&B Italia – A design story

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Many companies find their roots in traditions, others are born from the innovations of a certain moment, but only a few manage to combine both these characteristics and add an even more important third: reliability.

B&B Italia

One of our brands, to which we feel closer and fonder with, is rightly part of this third category of excellences. Contemporary design, timeless elegance and understated luxury are the guidelines of a brand that is the son of Italian heritage and that has always created, and still does, pieces that last over time and designs with ever-increasing value.

The origins of the brand

Born in 1966 from the entrepreneurial intuition of Piero Ambrogio Busnelli, B&B Italia immediately changed the way of thinking the upholstery. It was 1965, in fact, when Pierino, among the stands of a London fair, discovered injection molding and polyurethane, extremely versatile and malleable. And why not use these innovative technologies in the furniture-making process?

Back in Italy, he asked for the help of a young, yet already established entrepreneur, Cesare Cassina, and together they founded C&B (Cassina & Busnelli) with the idea, at a time when the production of furniture was still artisanal, to use the most innovative technologies to obtain a broader but always quality production.

In the 1960s, with injection molding technology, were produced furnishings such as the Up series without frames. In 1966 the company, together with a Bayer’s representative, developed the technology of cold polyurethane foamed in molds and then applied it to the production of padded furnishings.

1972 signs the launch of the “Le Bambole” collection of armchairs and sofas, designed by Mario Bellini and awarded with the 1st Compasso D’oro for the company. A design path that has brought B&B Italia to be awarded with 3 more Compassi d’Oro: Sisamo in 1984, Sity in 1987 and, in 1989, a lifetime achievement award “for the constant integration work carried out to combine technical/scientific research’s values with those necessary for the functionality and expressiveness of the products”.

Iconic designs

B&B Italia’s history is not just about awards and accolades; during its 55 years of activity, there has been a series of design icons that will furnish our homes forever.

  • UP by Gaetano Pesce: The technological know-how on which its development is based, gives Pesce’s idea the most appropriate language to express itself and transform a piece of furniture into a fragment of contemporary art available for a wide audience.
  • Camaleonda by Mario Bellini: From the ‘70s to today, thanks to a system of tie rods and rings, the sofa adapts to the evolving taste and dynamic needs of those who use it.
  • Tufty time by Patricia Urquiola: the perfect solution for such issues as practicality, modularity and comfort, it provides an informal aesthetics with limitless configuration possibilities.
  • Moon by Zaha Hadid: a design island that captures the center of the room; it is a sofa sculpture, a decidedly iconic monobloc that doesn’t give up an ergonomic design.
  • Charles by Antonio Citterio: Charles is a tribute to the drawings of the ‘50s and ‘60s. The name obviously refers to Charles Eames, the American designer, architect and director who has always maintained that details are not details, but are those that make the design.
  • Terminal 1 (chaise longue) by Jean-Marie Massaud: with the fluidity of the shapes, the balance between seat and metal support and the contrast between glossy and opaque surfaces, the result is a sophisticated monochrome image of a sculpture that seems to float.

Present and future

B&B Italia as a group owns the brand:

  • B&B Italia: indoor and outdoor “contemporary international design
  • Maxalto: “contemporary classics
  • Azucena: “the historical Italian brand
  • Arclinea: “the culture of design, in your kitchen”; it was acquired for the 70% in 2016.

Since January 2021, Piero Lissoni is the new Artistic Director of the brand: under his guidance, natural consequence of a collaboration that began in 2017, B&B Italia will develop a new global image, with new style codes and a different visual identity.

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