Celebrating 50 Years of B&B Italia

Jessica Idarraga

Giorgio Busnelli signing his new book, The Long Life of Design in Italy. B&B Italia 50 Years and Beyond.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of B&B Italia, the company’s CEO, Giorgio Busnelli, sat down for an interview with Cultured to discuss the milestone year and to share a few words of wisdom for young designers.

How are you feeling in the midst of all the celebrations happening around the world in honor of the 50 years of B&B Italia? It is a great moment for me, for the company, for our people. It is a celebration that includes me being in Miami tonight to host our film, B&B Italia. Poetry in the Shape. When Design Meets Industry. We already celebrated in New York at the Morgan Library designed by Renzo Piano. We have celebrated at the New Tate Gallery in London and in Tokyo. Next we will be in Paris and Beijing. We are receiving a real response from our competitors, press, architects and dealers. A lot of people or young people that are just entering the business do not know the real story, how many doors we have opened and how many innovations we have done. I invested a lot of time in the celebration so I think it will come back with an effort to reconfirm our leadership as one of the best companies in the world for design, innovation and quality.

I am curious to know how your relationship with the Kassamalis began? From the first meetings that my father had with the Kassamalis, he was very impressed with the patience they had for design. They started with a small shop, and began hosting talks with architects just to create the culture that exists today. It is unique because you don’t find other dealers in the world that have worked so hard to create this kind of knowledge and understanding of design. They became more than an important dealer in the business; we really have a fantastic friendship.


Giorgio Busnelli with Nargis and Nasir Kassamali at the Luminaire showroom in Coral Gables.

How did you develop your program for the Triennale during Salone del Mobile? We began to brainstorm with the chief of our Research and Development center, Rolando Gorla. We had a somewhat limited space to work with, so we could not present a prototype or something like that. We decide to talk to Migliore + Servetto and came up with the idea for The Perfect Density. Essentially, we presented the brain of B&B Italia: Through the eyes of my father, you see the phases of production. You see architects. You see products. It was really emotional and we fell in love with the idea. It was quite a big investment because it was only open for 3 weeks but we knew it was important to mark the territory especially since Triennale was during Salone del Mobile. We’ve decided to give The Perfect Density a space in the headquarters of B&B Italia because every year we invite more than 500 architects, interior decorators and sales people from our stores. We will assemble it in an area of 180 meters, exactly how we first presented it. 


A few iconic pieces by B&B Italia including the Bend-sofa by Patricia Urquiola, Athos table by Paolo Piva, Surface storage unit by Vincent Van Duysen and the Grande Papilio armchair by Naoto Fukasawa.

How did it feel for B&B Italia to be awarded the first Compasso d’Oro as a company? That I think was the best thing that could happen. Because really that is the statement, that if a jewel like the Compasso d’Oro is given for the first time in history to a company it is like winning a gold medal at the Olympics. It was incredible.

What would your advice be for aspiring designers?  I think one of the most important things is to try not to be so involved in what you are doing. You have to see your product as it stands alongside other products on the market. And try to understand how those products have been created. Learn how to deconstruct in order to construct. One of the things that my dad taught me was to be curious. I am curious and I go deep. Take control. Antonio Citterio is all the time looking for something new. It is never enough, you can never stop learning.

Images Courtesy of Luminaire