Celebrating B&B Italia’s entrepreneurial five decade design journey, we continue our series with a look at long-time collaborator Antonio Citterio one of the group’s most successful design partners – while also reviewing his latest collection, the very classic Édouard.
Antonio Citterio first began his relationship with B&B Italia when Giorgio Busnelli’s father and company founder, the late Piero Ambrogio Busnelli, was cementing B&B Italia’s place in Italian design history. That was 1978 and the Diesis sofa, still in production today, began a partnership with B&B Italia that has produced some of the company’s most successful designs.
As a starting point, Diesis represented B&B Italia’s ability to blend craftsmanship, in the traditional leathers and saddle-making upholstery, with new technologies that would ensure quality, durability and production performance for the future.
The Charles sofa was launched in 1987, joined by the Charles Large in 2003 and Charles Outdoor in 2010, and still holds the award for most popular design across all the collections. While the Sity sofa designed in 1986 won B&B Italia the coveted Compasso D’Oro.
Over the past four decades, Citterio has produced a staggering catalogue of chairs, tables, sofas and armchairs for B&B Italia, highlights including the Mart leather armchair and the Flat C storage system, and sofas including Ray, Michel, Richard and Gio. While he also oversees the group’s sister brand Maxalto and its collection that combines highly crafted precious woods, metals and tailored upholsteries.
Research and experimentation is synonymous with the B&B Italia brand. For a company willing to support new ideas and technical development, it’s a collaboration that both suits and expands Citterio’s design process as an architect.
Understanding buildings is by no means a separate endeavour to understanding how furniture should work within them. The two go hand in hand and B&B Italia’s contract division is stronger for the insights Citterio brings.
The newest collection by Citterio is the classic Édouard. In form, the sofa and armchairs have a distinctly 1950s flavour, the sofa in particular a nod to the lighter, more shapely armchairs of the mid-century modern style Its lightness moves away from the long, lean rectangular forms made popular by the Charles.
Here, Citterio’s approach is to provide comfort through a high backrest, with an optional headrest, and the flexibility of armchair, sofa and sectional seating units to suit the interior.
With all of Citterio’s designs you can’t help but notice he is thinking about the space a piece of furniture might rest, and already has a solution in mind.