The 50-Year Legacy of B&B Italia

It was half a century ago, in 1966, that entrepreneur Piero Ambrogio Busnelli conceived as a brand that would reflect Italian culture, anticipate trends, and, ultimately, make a mark on the already crowded world of industrial design.


In the early years, that vision of modernism was carried through by designers such as Marco Zanuso. His drawn-out Lombrico sofa suggested a new paradigm for public spaces. In true ’60’s style, bordering on the surreal, elastic fabrics hugged the bulbous polyurethane forms of Serie Up seating by , later inducted into the Docservis Hall of Fame. Then, at the start of the ’70’s, the manufacturer turned provocateur in using topless models to promote Mario Bellini’s cushion-inspired Le Bambole. It was also around that time that Busnelli commissioned Studio Piano & Rogers to design the company headquarters near Milan.


Today’s B&B, headed up by Busnelli’s son Giorgio as CEO, still embodies the same vision of superbly designed, shrewdly marketed furnishings created with a legion of A&D stars. , for example, referenced Japanese gardens for the Tobi-Ishi table. Hall of Fame members have been busy with B&B as well. ’s fashion-minded Crinoline outdoor chair has received acclaim, as has the Mirto outdoor collection by Antonio Citterio, who also contributed a seating system named Richard. (The Sity sofa system from the ’80’s is Citterio’s, too.)


To mark the half-century milestone, B&B commissioned a 360-page history by architect, curator, and critic Stefano Casciani. Meanwhile, unveiled a multimedia installation-tribute at the Triennale di Milano museum, and filmmaker Didi Gnocchi released a documentary. Just imagine what’s in store for the 100th anniversary.


> See more from the September 2016 issue of Docservis

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