Behind the Artist: Mario Bellini - industrial concept store

Behind the Artist: Mario Bellini

by @industrialkonzept Team

Cover picture: Chiara lamp by Mario Bellini for FLOS / © Alessandro Furchino Capria, FLOS

Mario Bellini is a renowned designer and architect who has gained worldwide recognition for his iconic furniture designs and impressive architectural projects. His designs have shaped modern interior design and continue to set standards in the design industry today. However, Bellini is not only successful as a designer and architect, but also has a strong interest in the visual arts. He has a unique approach to the design of furniture and buildings, combining aesthetics, function and art. But who is Mario Bellini, the visionary behind these groundbreaking designs? In this article, we will delve deep into the history and work of Mario Bellini and take a look behind the curtain of this extraordinary artist.

Mario Bellini
Mario Bellini today | © Elena Marko at English Wikipedia | CC BY-SA (

Who is Mario Bellini?

Mario Bellini was born in Milan, Italy, in 1935 and developed an interest in art and design at an early age. He studied architecture at Milan Polytechnic, one of Italy's leading technical universities, and graduated in 1959. While still a student, he began to apply his creative skills to a number of design projects, which earned him his first recognition in the design world.

Bellini's career as a designer took off when he began working for the Italian furniture company Cassina. There he designed some of his most famous pieces of furniture, including the "Camaleonda", "Cab", "Le Bambole" and "Amanta" sofas, as well as the "Chiara" lamp. These designs are characterized by their timeless aesthetics and innovative use of materials.

Camaleonda Sofa
CAMALEONDA sofa | leather sofa | © B&B Italia (

A special feature of Bellini's design philosophy is his preference for organic shapes and materials. This is reflected in his furniture, which is often round and soft and combines comfort and style in a unique way. For example, the "Camaleonda" sofa, which captivates with its modular and adaptable shape, reminiscent of a chameleon - hence the name "Camaleonda", made up of "camaleonte" (chameleon) and "onda" (wave).

Mario Bellini in an interview with B&B Italia about his work "Camaleonda"

Bellini has also incorporated his design philosophy into his work as an architect. One notable example is the Tokyo Design Center in Japan, where Bellini incorporated the natural landscape into the building design to create a harmonious connection between the structure and its surroundings.

A lesser-known fact about Mario Bellini is that he not only worked as a designer and architect, but also as a photographer and artist. In his artwork, he explores the boundaries of materials and forms, often creating provocative and challenging works. Although this side of Bellini's work is less well known, it highlights his creative versatility and deep understanding of aesthetics and form.

The designs of Mario Bellini

Bellini's furniture designs are a fascinating blend of functional simplicity and artistic sophistication. They represent his idea of furniture as art objects that should be both aesthetically pleasing and practical to use.

Le Bambole Sofa
LE BAMBOLE Sofa | © B&B Italia (

For example, the "Le Bambole" collection, which was created in the 1970s. This upholstered furniture was revolutionary because it had neither a supporting structure nor conventional upholstery. Instead, they were molded from a single piece of foam that was fitted into a stretchable cover. This collection was a commercial success and can still be found in many homes and public spaces today.

Cab Stühle
CAB Chairs | © Casati Gallery (

Bellini's "Cab" chair, designed in 1977, is another iconic piece of furniture that exemplifies his unconventional approach to design. The chair consists of a leather shell stretched over a steel frame. This creates a minimalist yet comfortable seat. The "Cab" chair is one of Cassina's best-selling designs and has earned Bellini a reputation as one of the leading furniture designers of his generation.

Equally noteworthy is the "Amanta" collection, a series of modular sofas and seating designed by Bellini in 1966. These pieces of furniture impress with their organic shapes and the possibility of arranging and combining them as required. Another highlight is the "Chiara" lamp, which impresses with its minimalist design and expressive shape.

Mario Bellini Chiara Lampe
Mario Bellini with his Chiara lamp (1969) | Image by Giuseppe Pino, FLOS

A special insight into the work of Mario Bellini

Although Mario Bellini is mainly known for his furniture designs, there is a lesser-known side to his work that illustrates his deep interest in art and culture. Bellini worked for many years as an art and design consultant for the renowned New York company Olivetti. In this role, he designed numerous exhibitions and museum installations that reflect his creative diversity and commitment to the communication of art and design.

Design von Mario Bellini
Olivetti - Catalogo collezioni (in it). Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology, Milan, CC BY-SA 4.0,

By combining design, architecture and art, Mario Bellini has created a unique aesthetic that has secured him a permanent place in design history. His works subtly challenge us to think about the role of design in our everyday lives and to question the boundaries between art and everyday objects. Although he has been active for more than six decades, Mario Bellini remains a constant innovator whose designs never cease to excite and inspire.

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