In 1966, Mario Bellini started collaborating with the Italian manufacturer C&B Italia, designing two innovative projects: the Amanta system and the Quattro Gatti extractable coffee tables.
Cesare Cassina and Piero Busnelli founded C&B Italia in the same year. They wanted to support very innovative projects. So, they contacted the most talented architects in Italy at that time.
For this reason, the Italian company called a young Mario Bellini. The 31 years old architect was already the winner of two Compasso d’Oro prizes. The first one, in 1962, was with the game table, he designed for Pedretti. The second one, in 1964, with the CMC 7 magnetic character encoder for Olivetti.
Hereafter, this collaboration led to iconic design pieces, as the Camaleonda system and Le Bambole sofa.
In the one-seater module, the upholstery and the frame are completely separate. In the Amanta armchair, Mario Bellini repeats the scheme of the Barcelona armchair by Ludwig Mies van de Rohe. The frame is one single piece in reinforced polyester. C&B Italia bought a 1500 ton press to produce it. The frame can be white or with the same upholstery of the cushions. It presents a slot in the center of the back to improve its strength. The large visible structure is no more hidden and becomes a very expressive and characterizing element. It determined the standard of the new generation sitting units.
Furthermore, the cushions are independent. They were available with leather, velvet, or cotton upholstery. Their padding is in polyurethane foam. Three covered buttons on the backrest and three ones on the seat tighten the coating. Moreover, the armchair does not present legs or feet. It features just four rubber spheres to soften the contact with the floor. Then, the armchairs can be lined up to form a sofa. Each seating module measures 60 cm x 80 cm x 80 cm.
The coffee tables were available in two different sizes (squared and rectangular).
The squared coffee tables complete the sofa, in the corner arrangements too.
Amanta was one of the first modular sofa ever produced. It offers different layout solutions, making it adaptable to every living room. So, even if it is no more produced, interior designers worldwide are searching for vintage sitting units.
The Amanta modular system is now part of the permanent collection at the museum of modern art in New York.
In 1975, B&B Italia presented an updated version of the Amanta system: Amanta 24. The greatest innovation was the introduction of an armrest module. Moreover, the modules are smaller than the ones of the first generation. They measures 60 cm x 70 cm x 70 cm. In addition, the frame is made of fiberlite. It was available in white, brown, or black. It does not present the central slot anymore. Furthermore, the cushions placed on the frame are two instead of three. They are flat without the covered buttons tightening the coating that we can find in the first version.
Quattro Gatti Extractable Coffee Tables
Mario Bellini designed the Quattro Gatti coffee tables in 1966. The four small tables can be put one on the top of the other or slipped into one another (like Chinese boxes). They are in reinforced polyester. Furthermore, they were available white or colored (yellow, ochre, red, grey).
In 1969, the American Institute of Interior Designers gave the Quattro Gatti the annual design awards prize.