In 1972, B&B Italia released Le Bambole, a revolutionary design by architect Mario Bellini which used the same system (metal skeleton with polyurethane padding) to make an armchair, sofa and even a bed – Bambola, Bibambola and Bamboletto, respectively.
It was a reaction to the times – new technology allowed its construction, and the design was perfectly suited to looser, more expressive ways of living in the 1970s. As Bellini said at the time, “Le Bambole are not covered in fabric, but constructed in fabric.”
Fifty years later, B&B asked Bellini to revise the iconic design in time for its 50th anniversary, releasing it to great acclaim at Salone del Mobile earlier this year. As a design, it’s more relevant than ever – it’s comfortable, and it comes in a range of colours that are both expressive and contemporary. The sofa’s softness remains its design inspiration and its greatest strength.
The piece had a mild tweak in 2007 for its 35th anniversary, which lent it a thinner, more angular profile. The 2022 version returns to soft, enveloping curves and comfort, with a deeper seat on the three-seater version, the Granbambola.
But the real change is underneath, with a new structure made from recycled polyethene, and other parts made from polyurethane foam and thermoplastic elastomers for comfort – all wrapped in an interlining made from recycled PET bottles. At the end of its life, every item in the collection can be broken down and recycled. Upholstery options include Sila, a sable fabric with a pleasantly soft irregular feel, and Manila, a humorous floral print.
“I feel the pleasure of revisiting this family again, because it confirms to me that it is anything but aged; on the contrary, it is enjoying a thriving and promising second life,” says Bellini. “We have recovered its charm, its sumptuous floridity, its softness.”