B&B Italia is one of the most well-known Italian furnishing manufacturers in the world. Founded in 1966 by the entrepreneur Piero Ambrogio Busnelli, the success of the Italian brand has been built on its ability to interpret contemporary culture, taste and lifestyle and translate them into modern pieces of furniture which are also works of art.
The Italian brand began life in the 1960’s, an era when the made-in-Italy ethos was having an impact on international fashion and design. B&B Italia’s modern furniture caught the public mood with its unique mix of traditional Italian quality and the use of new technologies applied to the production processes.
B&B Italia’s designs are achieved using revolutionary technology such as injection molding (cold shaped polyurethane foam). These techniques led to the creation of custom-made icons like the Coronado sofa, one of the first classic piece of home furniture from two great artists of modern design, Afra and Tobia Scarpa. In the Seventies Scarpa creations such as the Arona chair, made of expensive woods like ebony and rosewood and combined with leather or refined weave, led to B&B Italia creating its new line, Maxalto.
Maxalto home furniture merged classic elements of traditional Italian interior design with contemporary lines and shapes and then used new technology to produce these custom-made designs. Maxalto led to B&B Italia becoming the first company to win the “Golden Compass” award in 1989 for the contribution it had made to Italian design history. Usually the prize was only for products.
Moving into the 1990’s, B&B Italia continued with its new and innovative custom-made designs. 1989 was the year of Domus, a system of bookcases and wall shelving with a new vertical sliding door mechanism that radically the way people looked at walls in their houses. Harry (1995) and Charles (1997) were new concepts in chaise longue end units and also launched the career of interior designer Antonio Citterio who went on to design many more pieces for Maxalto.
Citterio worked side by side with Patricia Urquiola, who designed the Canasta collection, the first designs for the B&B Italia Outdoor furniture line. The company philosophy was to extend the style, comfort and custom-made quality of interior design to the garden and patio setting, this ensuring every part of its customers lives was perfect! Following this B&B moved into the world of offices and workplace furnishing as well as the marine market, creating furniture for boats and yachts.
In 2006, the company signed an important agreement with Dutch furnishing accessories and lighting firm, MOOOI. Its art director Marcel Wanders works alongside designers from the Italian brand, maximizing their joint passion for innovative design while maintaining their individual styles. All to achieve their common goal: spreading exciting modern design around the world.
In 2011, the Busnelli family regained full control of the company which had latterly been under the direction of the Opera Fund. Giorgio and Emanuele Busnelli, President and Director respectively of B&B Italia, have retained the family business characteristics and philosophy while bringing the Italian brand to the top of the modern design sector, with stores in every corner of the globe and which had an annual turnover of 156 million Euros in 2010.
B&B Italia used modern, controversial ad campaigns to get public attention for its innovative designs, using the work of Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani. His photos showing Andy Wharol’s muse, Donna Jordan, sitting half-naked on a “Bambole” sofa, that cult piece of modern interior design by Mario Bellini, caused a global scandal and helped raise the company profile. The ad was recently re-edited in a new campaign showing two serious ( fully dressed) girls on the same, restyled sofa.
Over the years, the Italian brand has expanded its lines, from interior design to outdoor furniture, from home accessories to retail areas, offices, hotels and boats. But B&B has never lost site of its main ethos – designing exclusive, top quality innovative furniture aimed at satisfying its customers every need.
B&B ITALIA S.p.a.