Behind the Artist: Mario Bellini
by @industrialkonzept Team
Cover photo: Chiara Lampe by Mario Bellini for FLOS / © Alessandro Furchino Capria, FLOS
Mario Bellini is a renowned designer and architect who has gained worldwide recognition through his iconic furniture designs and stunning architectural projects. His designs have shaped modern interior design and continue to set standards in the design industry to this day. However, Bellini is not only successful as a designer and architect, but also has a strong interest in the fine arts. He has a unique approach to designing furniture and buildings, combining aesthetics, function and art. But who is Mario Bellini, the visionary behind these groundbreaking designs? In this article we want to delve deep into the history and work of Mario Bellini and take a look behind the curtain of this extraordinary artist.
Mario Bellini Today | © Elena Marko at English Wikipedia | CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)
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 the Polytechnic of Milan, one of the leading technical universities in Italy, graduating in 1959. While still a student, he began applying his creative skills to a variety of design projects, earning him early recognition in the design world.
Bellini's career as a designer began 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 | leather sofa | © B&B Italia (https://www.bebitalia.com/en-us/en-us-camaleonda-divani.html)
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, combining comfort and style in a unique way. For example, the "Camaleonda" sofa, which impresses with its modular and adaptable shape, reminiscent of a chameleon - hence the name "Camaleonda", composed 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. A 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 artworks 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 underscores his creative versatility and deep understanding of aesthetics and form.
The designs of Mario Bellini
Bellini's furniture designs are an intriguing blend of functional simplicity and artistic sophistication. They represent his idea of furniture as art objects that should be both aesthetically pleasing and practical.
LE BAMBOLE Sofa | © B&B Italia (https://www.bebitalia.com/en-us/en-le-bambole-divani.html)
For example the "Le Bambole" collection, which was created in the 1970s. This upholstered furniture was revolutionary as it had neither a supportive structure nor traditional upholstery. Instead, they were molded from a single piece of foam fitted into a stretchable cover. This collection was a commercial success and can still be found in many homes and public spaces today.
CAB Chairs | © Casati Gallery (https://www.casatigallery.com/products/mario-bellini-cab-chair-set-of-6/)
Bellini's "Cab" chair, designed in 1977, is another iconic piece of furniture that showcases his unconventional approach to design. The chair consists of a leather shell stretched over a steel frame. This creates a minimalist, yet comfortable seating. 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 its generation.
Equally notable 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 needed. Another highlight is the "Chiara" lamp, which impresses with its minimalist design and expressive shape.
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 best known for his furniture designs, there is a lesser-known side to his work that reflects 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 express his creative diversity and commitment to communicating art and design.
Olivetti - Catalogo collezioni (in it). Museoscienza.org. Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology, Milan, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48920623
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 reflect on the role of design in our everyday lives and to question the boundaries between art and commodities. Despite being in the business for more than six decades, Mario Bellini remains a constant innovator whose designs continue to excite and inspire.