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Photo: Mario Bellini Camaleonda sofa

Discover with Whoppah: Mario Bellini

Discover the Italian master of design: Mario Bellini

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ByEvelien RemmelsMay 2021

Who is Mario Bellini?

Mario Bellini (born February 1, 1935, Milan) is an acclaimed Italian designer and architect. His work has won numerous awards such as eight prestigious Compasso d'Oro awards. Bellini studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano. He graduated in 1959 and was the head of the design department of the Italian department store La Rinascente until 1962. In 1963 he became chief designer at Olivetti, an Italian factory of computers and printers, a role he held until 1993. In 1963 Bellini started his own design studio: Studio Bellini and designed innovative furniture for various brands such as Cassina and B&B Italia, including the Amanta Chair (1966) and Le Bambole Sofa (1972), both for B&B Italia, the 412 Cab Chair (1976). -7) and Victoria Series (1982) for Cassina; and the Bellini chair (1998) for Heller. Bellini also worked for Artemide, Brionvega, Fiat, Flos, Pirelli, Renault, Rosenthal, Tecno, Vitra and Yamaha.

ParagraphPhoto left: Bellini behind his design office. Right: Mario Bellini in his 1964 932 armchair
ParagraphPhoto right: Le Bambole, 1972/2007 by Mario Bellini for B&B Italia. Left: Cab chair 1979 by Mario Bellini for Cassina

More than furniture design

Since the 1980s, Bellini now 86, has focused almost entirely on architecture and designed numerous buildings, including the Portello Trade Fair in Milan, the Villa Erba Exhibition and Convention Center in Cernobbio (Como) and the Tokyo Design Center in Japan. From 1985 to 1991, Bellini contributed to the influential architecture and design magazine Domus as an editor. In 1987, the New York Museum of Modern Art dedicated its first retrospective to the Italian master, honoring his life's work and adding twenty-five pieces to its permanent collection.

ParagraphPhoto left: Camaleonda sofa B&B Italia interior. Right: Camaleonda bank B&B Italia archive

Camaleonda design icon

The Camaleonda sofa is one of the most popular design sofas at the moment. Originally designed in 1970 by Mario Bellini for B&B Italia and introduced internationally with a big bang in 1972 after the sofa was on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, during the exhibition "Italy: The New Domestic Landscape". The sofa is spherical, versatile and very inviting. It was one of the first modular sofas to go mainstream. The comfortable wide independent elements can be placed in multiple arrangements or used as a stand-alone, and the tufty design gives it great style, making it a perfect family sofa and lounge sofa.

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Vintage expert and advisor Camille
has a story about the Le Bambole armchair by Mario Bellini

Italy has a reputation when it comes to design. It has major representatives in art, fashion, architecture and furniture design. Italian furniture design has always been known for the use of high-quality materials and craftsmanship. Particularly within the category design, Mario Bellini stands out as a famous and versatile designer who has been active at top level since the 1960s.

Our absolute Bellini favorite - and also the most famous and beloved midcentury design collectors item - is the 'Bambole' with its iconic design, extraordinary quality and fantastic seating comfort. It is no wonder that this design was awarded with the prestigious Compasso d'Oro Award in 1979. Rightly so! We love authentic Bamboles where life is still in them and the leather shows a beautiful wear. Other well-known and sought-after designs by Bellini include the Cab Chair, the 'Camaleonda' sofa and the multifunctional 'Quattro Gatti' side tables.