Le Bambole Settee
Italy, 1972 / c. 1990
Mario Bellini

B&B Italia
68 × 34 × 28¾”

Shifting seamlessly between architecture and design, Milan-based Mario Bellini’s oeuvre spans both small objects and major buildings, united by their relationship to human scale. From the 1960s through the ’80s, Bellini developed a series of colored plastic typewriters and calculators that prompted numerous imitators. Their streamlined designs were at once minimal, sensible, and warm. Since the 1990s, Bellini has focused more on architectural projects, such as the redesign of the Department of Islamic Art in the Louvre’s courtyard. Designed to resemble a veil, the undulating canopy of diaphanous triangular panels echoes the geometry of the collection housed below, while also referring to human garb. “I have always mixed an anthropomorphic side into my objects. That could explain why I’m always searching for a human expression, an easily understandable structure of meanings,” he has said. —Artsy

The starting point was a shopping bag that contained formless material that was shaped when the bag was set on the ground and squashed. In the shared research undertaken by the designer and the company's internal R&D department, the Centro Ricerche & Sviluppo, the idea moved towards the shape of a cushion.

This is how Le Bambole came into being between 1970 and 1972. The series turned out to be an icon for the 1970s and won the "Compasso d'Oro" award in 1979. The search for a new shape for upholstered furniture: all of the parts are shaped like a large soft cushion. If we take apart Le Bambole, we get cushions in part, because they are a natural "free" shape, difficult to describe in a product drawing, but easy to perceive and analyse. Inside them is the "skeleton", or rather the vertical edges or elastic membranes that blend form and fabric to determine a balance between action and reaction. Le Bambole, said Bellini, “are not covered in fabric, instead they are built of fabric.” —B&B Italia

(Photo: Wright)