B&B Italia: In the Works

Inside the Italian Design Giant's Renzo Piano-Designed Factory

Photographer James Mollison’s intimate portrayal of the B&B Italia factory floor captures the slow evolution of Japanese designer Naoto Fukasawa’s Grande Papilio chair from mini-prototype to life-size metal frame to finished product. Granted unique access to the iconic furniture manufacturer, Mollison focused on chairs believing that their ubiquity makes people forget just how much thought, effort and skill goes into making them. “You never think about what you’re sitting on, its structure and how it is made,” explains the Venice-based photographer, whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and Le Monde. “There’s something really satisfying about seeing the whole process take place under one roof.” Housed in a space just outside of Milan designed by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano in 1972, the B&B factory uses many of the same production techniques pioneered by founder Piero Busnelli some 45 years ago. “He was able to turn the handicraft savoir-faire into an industrial reality,” explains Piero’s son Giorgio Busnelli, B&B Italia’s Chairman and CEO. “He introduced new production techniques and materials that represented a real revolution in contemporary design.”

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