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Sofa Camaleonda, design Mario Bellini 1970, reissue 2020, B&B Italia.

| Designbest editorial staff


esigned in 1970 by a master of Italian design and a company which has made design history, fifty years later it celebrates an extremely welcome comeback. An icon of design in the most innovative and revolutionary period for furniture, the Camaleonda seating system has become one of the most loved pieces by architects, interior designers and artists—a famous photo in which Rudolf Nureyev poses nude while doing a handstand—for its great freedom of composition and use. We went to check out a preview of how this icon has changed.

  • What it is  Camaleonda is a system of modular seating reissued by B&B Italia in 2020, fifty years after the original project.
  • What makes it special  The fundamental characteristic of Camaleonda is its almost infinite modularity. Transformable like a chameleon and soft and sinuous like a wave, its elements are combined, unhooked and reattached to one’s liking. In its reissue, Camaleonda preserves the elements that have made it a contemporary classic—aesthetics, dimensions and proportions—while the interior gets radically modified in order to become an eco-sustainable product with contemporary comfort.
  • How it is made  The Camaleonda system is based on two seating modules (96x96 and 96x66 cm) paired with two elements for the back and armrest. Its ample polyurethane padding forms the characteristic capitonné, obtained today as in the past through a system of cables, hooks and rings designed in the seventies. Created in order to facilitate the elements’ modularity, it allows the hooking and unhooking of the seating, backrests and armrests and for the endless changing of one’s mind, moving and redesigning the space. Its padding has been completely reimagined by B&B Italia’s Research and Development Center in order to make it, first of all, more comfortable compared to the original one, but also to be more sustainably produced and 100% recycled at the end of its life. Particular attention has been dedicated to the upholstery, which is available in leather or fabric, using the original’s chenille texture, and is proposed in five different key colors as solids or to be freely mixed.
  • Whose idea it is  Camaleonda is a project by Mario Bellini, the architect and designer, the undisputed master of Italian design awarded with 8 Compasso d’Oro ADI, with 25 pieces present in the permanent collection of MoMA in New York (who dedicated a retrospective to him in 1987), the inventor of the P101 for Olivetti – the first personal computer - director of Domus (‘85-’91) and designer of numerous art and architecture exhibitions in Italy and abroad. The buildings designed by his studio can be found all over the world, from Milan to Frankfurt, Paris, Japan, Australia and the USA. At 85 years old Bellini never stops. He has many ongoing projects (the new Politecnica School in Genoa, the new RAI headquarters in Milan and a hotel structure in the Virgin Islands) and, through all of this, Bellini did not lack the time to collaborate in person on this reissue of his Camaleonda.
  • We chose it because…  With Camaleonda one doesn’t buy a sofa, one buys a collection to be infinitely remodeled. Camaleonda is a dynamic, living and sincere object that is not at all mysterious. It lets itself be changed to freely redesign the space without losing its identity or free spirit. Mario Bellini’s words are enlightening in this regard: “Of all the objects I have designed, Camaleonda is perhaps the best in terms of its sense of freedom.”



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