He called it the Camaleonda effect. Ever since the 1970s Italian architect Mario Bellini’s sofa appeared again on Instagram, having landed in the homes of tastemakers like Athena Calderoni, Chrissy Teigen, and Martha Hunt, the world couldn’t get enough of standard wonders. B&B Italia reissued the classic series, a vintage wing featured on the cover adFebruary 2022 issue, and shoppers embraced a group of similarly gay brothers. Riding on that wave of excitement, leading furniture brands are now digging into the history of 20th-century Italian design, reimagining archival treasures and discovering the lesser-known pieces they are poised to rediscover. So what’s next?
For early adopters struggling with the fatigue of the Camaleonda, this June Salone del Mobile show in Milan brings, among other exciting returns, two alternatives to the not-yet-insta-famous Bellini sofa, both designed in 1972. The rare Le Mura series, inspired by the stones used For the construction of ancient Roman walls which Cassina originally produced, Tacchini (tacchini.it) reintroduced it. Meanwhile, Le Bambole, the pillow system that won Italy’s prestigious Compasso d’Oro award in 1979, was updated by B&B Italia with a more padded silhouette and eco-friendly materials (bebitalia.com). As Bellini himself, who still works in Milan, says: “Far from old age, Le Bambole returns to a second life, luxurious and promising.”
Italian fans looking to steer clear of the pack can turn to the 1960s Joe Colombo basket concept, rattan’s departure from the popular future. First designed for Pierantonio Bonacina, Gubi has revived the series in two- and three-seat sofas, as well as lounge chairs (gubi.com). Any would look elegant across the room from a 1930s Blevio table by Ignazio Gardella, the famous rationalist architect in Milan whose name might send even design insiders googling. Molteni & C has added the carved wood block – designed by Gardella for his family’s home on Lake Como – to its heritage collection, joining the ranks of maestros Gio Ponte and Aldo Rossi (molteni.it).
For design revolutionaries, the iconic polyurethane Gufram cactus, created by Guido Drocco and Franco Mello in 1972, celebrates its fiftieth anniversary with pink, blue and yellow versions designed with the Andy Warhol Foundation (gufram.it). Meanwhile, fellow Italian radical Gaetano Pesce Tramonto a New York, in homage to his 1980’s new town, is now available through Cassina, as is a new resin screen to match it (cassina.com). “In the ’80s, this piece spoke of the potential sunset of this beloved city,” Pesci says of the modular sofa, whose sinuous shapes resemble the skyline. “Instead, the screen today has another function: to generate happiness in a moment that is, at the very least, a storm.” Here’s hoping any one of these old but good things will elicit a smile.
Game of thrones:
Three historic chairs have been plucked from the archives and brought back into production, and they are now making themselves at home