When it was first released by B&B Italia in 1972, Le Bambole defied the norms of sofas—it was armless, legless, squishy and amorphous, a cross between a cushion and a cloud. Its designer, Italian furniture wizard Mario Bellini, had been dreaming of ultra-simplified seating that was effortlessly comfortable, “a living body that is soft and safe, pleasant to touch and embrace.” He worked closely with B&B Italia’s research and development center, testing foam and fabric strength, and their weight-bearing qualities when stripped of supportive structures. His final version oozed 70s sex appeal, so B&B Italia launched it with a risque campaign featuring Warhol muse Donna Jordan, who draped herself across it, topless and wearing heels. 

Bellini’s original Le Bambole design spawned countless other versions, like the king-sized bed Bambolettone and the ottoman Bambouff. Like the sofa, their forms felt minimal and spontaneous, readymade for lounging. In 2007, slender, streamlined updates were released, still charged with freeing energy. Le Bambole has become something of an Italian design icon: acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, adorned in leather, velvet, even faux fur. You’ll find them sold on Chairish too, alongside other game-changing 70s pieces.


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November 9, 2021

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