nterpreting modernity with intelligence, anticipating new lifestyles and following the evolution of the individual and collective imagination. Innovation is the key word of design and innovating is in the dna of BBB: the brand that this year celebrates 70 years in the furniture design world.
The dialogue between tradition and experimentation, the natural flexibility and capability of continually updating their own approach are this company’s strengths. They have known how to bring the last 50 years of Italian design research and experimentation into their collections. Not by chance, among the many names that have collaborated with BBB, internationals designers stand out: from the legendary Gio Ponti, Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, to the trio De Pas- D’Urbino-Lomazzi and Vittorio Prato, to the contemporary designers Roby Cantarutti, Massimo Colombo, Marco Piva and Konstantrin Grcic just to name a few.
The history of BBB started in 1947, in a moment of great historical and cultural turmoil. Piero Bonacina, expert carpenter, founded the first artisanal chair workshop, going from employee to small business owner. The first models were not particularly innovative. They recaptured traditional chairs but reinterpreted them in a more minimalist and sober style. A simple idea that would quickly reveal itself to be successful because it responded to the new needs of the public who for the first time was drawing nearer to the symbols of bourgeois comfort.
Flash forward to the bright and colorful world of the sixties: plastics became synonymous with the new standard of living. They were more practical and casual and brought modernity into the homes of Italians. Design looked towards the avant-garde and gave way to new forms, functions and colors that reinvented the landscapes of home design. It was in this moment that Pietro Bonancina’s children made their appearance in his workshop, transforming the small family business into the new BBB (a B for each child), a medium-sized company that produced chairs, furniture and decòr on a large scale.
They did not only use wood, but also expanded resins—the base material for modern soft furnishings. BBB changed material and technologies and broke the mold of classical aesthetics. In 1966 Welcome was born, their first contemporary soft furnishing by Aldaberto Dal Lago. It modern and restrained, a marriage of tradition and refinement, always in keeping with the times. This was the cautious, but forward-thinking approach of the company which tried to find continuity between memory and experimentation. While the meeting during the next year with the iconic design trio De Pas, D’Urbino and Lomazzi would go on to offer BBB an original and unprecedented perspective on design culture (the Gomma chair comes to mind).
Year after year BBB continued to expand and define their identity with a series of meaningful changes. In 1968 it was Antonio Lupi’s turn; the emerging graphic designer on the Milanese scene designed their new brand logo and speared their advertising campaign, a fortunate collaboration that would also introduce Achille Castiglioni among the brands’ names.
Indeed, it was Achille Castiglioni who brought together the more elaborated image of BBB with the foldable Trip chair, which went back to the traditional Thonet and demonstrated a precise attitude towards design: a few essential elements and design grammar that focuses on functionality, but also the ability and the audacity to overcome these same limits. This is the soul of BBB.
Past and future are continually mixed in the collections that bring us back to a portrait of a dynamic and lively company, still capable today of maintaining historical memory and contemporaneously support evolutions in contemporary design.
From the composed functionality of Carlo Santi’s 1975 Pullover armchair to Laura Griziotti’s rereading of modular soft furnishing with 1979’s Clipper Top; from the postmodern projects of the 1980s like the Theo table from Boccato-Gigante-Zambusi; to the latest proposals turned towards technology like Again, a chair with a “green” soul designed by Paolo Favaretto. Their catalogue includes a range of forms and styles showing different languages and new techniques. It is an iridescent but harmonious multiplicity that creates bold and timeless style.