Le Bambole by Mario Bellini for C&B Italia is a design icon of the seventies.
The project, designed in 1972, included a wide range of products.
It was the fifth product that the Italian designer created for C&B Italia, after 4 Gatti, Amanta, Gli Scacchi, and Camaleonda.
Le Bambole Structure
In their frame, Le Bambole shows how the structure, treated as rigid support of springs and tie-rods, can be substituted by metal inserts.
Furthermore, for their covering, Le Bambole envisaged a “fabric containing a soft body” and therefore not just with plain covering functions but serving a collaborative purpose in absorbing structural tensions. Hence the cushions are covered in an anonymous truck tarpaulin and ribbed along their vertical edges by a structural framework. The idea of a large functional cushion is then closely linked to the process of multiple foaming, and the different densities of the polyurethane with which parts liable to compression are controlled in various ways.
Then, four polyurethane cones with metal elements embedded in them are connected by polyurethane panels in which steel section cross-pieces have likewise been embedded. The first foaming concerns the cones; the second the junction of the cones to the panels; while the third soft polyurethane foaming creates the seat base. Finally, a fourth, in dacron, is the upholstery proper.
Soft and alive, pliant and active. The armless embrace of a large cushion made of cushions, its free form created by a balance between tensions.
Le Bambole History
Mario Bellini designed Le Bambole in 1972 when he was 35 years old.
It is a big cushion, soft in all its parts, a big soft pillow that revolutionized the history of padded sofas.
It was a great innovation in the furnishing world, being, as Mario Bellini said, “not upholstered with fabric, but built in fabric.”
The Italian designer developed the project with the Research and Development Centre of C&B Italia.
The original idea was that of a bag containing amorphous material which, resting on the ground, would squash to model its contents.
Then, he moved forward to create a sofa apparently composed only of cushions, without a bearing structure.
So, the result was a natural shape that could give the sensation of comfort and softness.
From the very beginning, the project involved the development of a whole range of products, all with the same look.
Bambolina: a one-seater module
Bambolona: a one-seater module with a pillow on the backrest
Bambangolo: a one-seater angular module
Bambouff: an ottoman
Bambola: an armchair
Bibambola: a two-seater sofa
Tribambola: a three-seater sofa
Bamboleuse: a dormeuse
Bambolongue: a chaise longue
Bamboletto: a single bed
Bambolettone: a king-size foldable bed
In 1979 Le Bambole won the Compasso d’Oro Prize at Milan Triennale.
Furthermore, Le Bambole is now part of the permanent exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Once C&B Italia realized the product, they had to define how to advertise it.
With the successful campaign for the Up series in mind, for the launch of Le Bambole, the company opted for an approach connected with the icon of the moment: jeans.
So, Piero Busnelli, the brand owner, called the young photographer Oliviero Toscani to do it. Therefore, he set out a creative, distinctive, and very provocative campaign. He photographed topless Donna Jordan, model and muse of Andy Warhol, in a series of free and irreverent poses to introduce a spontaneous and transgressive couch.
C&B Italia presented the advertising posters in 1972 at Salone del Mobile in Milan, but they got censored with a black bar to hide the model’s breast.
So, the campaign gained great notoriety, giving an incredible boost to the product promotion.
This iconic advertising campaign contributed to make Le Bambole a cult.
Le Bambole ’07
In 2007, B&B Italia asked Mario Bellini to update the shape of Le Bambole after 35 years after the first version.
So, he created a sofa with an easier design.
The new versions are different from the old ones since their upholstery is a removable cover.
The new collection features an armchair, a two-seater and three-seater sofas, and an ottoman.
Finally, B&B Italia called Oliviero Toscani again for the advertising campaign.