B&B Italia Fifty Years Anniversary

One of the great pioneers of Italian design, Piero Ambrogio Busnelli (1927-2014) founded B&B Italia in 1973, after previously co-founding C&B Italia with Cesare Cassina. The industrial process conceived by Busnelli started in 1966 . “My idea is to replace the traditional wooden frame with an iron one, and to insert this inside a mould. Once closed, the mould is then filled with cold foam. After 30 minutes, you have a fully-fledged product ready to be extracted, Piero Ambrogio Busnelli explained. With that idea he revolutionized the furniture industry and transformed a simple furniture factory into something truly special and has remained virtually unchanged to this day, half a century later. A collaboration with the best Italian architects, the use of natural products, and the best craftsmanship mixed with innovation, technology and industrial processes created something that did not yet existed. An era of new creative potential opened up for the big names from the Cassina universe: Gianfranco Frattini, Marco Zanuso, Vico Magistretti, Mario Bellini, and Afra and Tobia Scarpa. It was the latter who developed the first project – the Coronado sofa, designed from start to finish for industrial mass production. Within five years, some of the greatest icons of Italian design were produced. These were supported by innovative advertising campaigns with names like the entrusted art director Enrico Trabacchi and amongst others his collaboration with the photographer Oliviero Toscani. After some years Busnelli acquired the company’s full shareholding from the Cassinas, and changed the name from C&B to B&B. Busnelli had a great eye for talent and heired a young Renzo piano for the new B&B headquarters. The building designed in 1973 is a miniature Pompidou Centre, and the same technology system was used a few years later in Paris. Renzo Piano´s building in Italy became a manifesto of the business model Busnelli had in mind right from the start. Images and film courtesy B&B Italia.

 

 

B&B Italia Headquarter in Novedrate in the Province of Como designed by Renzo Piano 1973.

La Bambole. Design Mario Bellini 1972. Foto: Oliviero Toscani.

Diesis. Design Antonio Citterio and Paolo Nava 1979.

Charles. Design Antonio Citterio 1997.

Andy. Design Paolo Piva 2002.

Tufty Time. Design Patricia Urquiola 2005.

Grande Papilio. Design Naoto Fukasawa 2009.

Gio. Design Antonio Citterio 2016.

 

For half a century after its founding, B&B Italia is still projecting itself toward the future with its people, production places, ideas, projects and products. The documentary film “B&B Italia. Poetry in the shape. When design meets industry” by Didi Gnocchi tells the story of the personal and entrepreneurial journey of B&B Italia’s founder Piero Ambrogio Busnelli, the company’s current situation and its objectives for the future. 50 years of history explained in 50 minutes full of interviews, images and an exciting story narrated by Giorgio Busnelli, son of the founder. When design meets industry the result is extraordinary.