Industrial Design

Ever a decisive factor in the company's development strategy, at B&B Italia research is conducted inhouse by the R&D Centre. A centre where meetings are held, a steadily evolving creative laboratory, an alchemic site where ideas take shape. This is also achieved through partnerships with world renowned designers.

With the prized contribution of R&D Centre, B&B Italia promoted and still promotes some of the major international iconic products, and stands out as a technologically advanced company with a very high innovative potential. The history of the company records many special achievements and acknowledgements, including four “Compasso d’Oro” awards, the most prestigious of which was obtained in 1989 “for the ongoing integration process implemented to combine the values of technical and scientific research with those required for product function and expression.”

“Decades of projects, ideas, dedication. And of results. A challenging legacy that drives us forward.”

Product Development

From project to product. A path that leads to the development of the industrial design culture.

Research and technology are the two strategic factors that underpin B&B Italia's development policy. The company invests considerable human and financial resources into research, precisely over 3% of the corporate turnover every year. Technology pursues two objectives. Firstly to provide a practical benefit for the final client in terms of product quality and comfort and, secondly, through the ongoing experimentation with new materials and technology, and by improving production processes in order to enhance efficiency standards. This approach makes B&B Italia the first “industry for design.”

“People who work for B&B Italia have this very clear vision: the design is not just a question of expression, but it embraces all those processes that make up the entire project.”

Antonio Citterio

The Design Idea

Every product is the result of ongoing and intensive relations with the designers.

B&B Italia's Research & Development Centre interprets and guides the creative energy of designers, fuelling ongoing experimentation. Designers express their creative vision by drawing upon corporate know-how. Designers and companies cooperate synergistically to enhance B&B Italia's unique traits and personality in an ever innovative key. Making the most of their talent. Every product is conceived, designed and developed in close partnership with the designer to yield the perfect result of team work. Sketches, drawings and renderings are the first step of interaction between the designer and the R&D Centre. The R&D Centre, which features extensive experience and critical skills, guides the project to ensure consistency with brand values. Every product must express the corporate DNA, namely research, creativity and quality. Antonio Citterio, Patricia Urquiola, Naoto Fukasawa, Zaha Hadid, Mario Bellini, Jeffrey Bernett, Gaetano Pesce, Paolo Piva, Studio Kairos are some of the world famous designers who have designed products for B&B Italia.

“People of R&D Centre really feel like they are co-authors with you in creating something. We work side by side at the same project”

Patricia Urquiola


Experiments on comfort, ergonomics and finishes in real time.

The R&D Centre is the place where insight, sketches, images, materials and technologies concretely take shape. An ongoing process that transforms a project into a product. The R&D Centre controls the prototyping process by drawing on the competences of expert craftsmen to achieve industrial solutions. But only some of the projects are sent for production after the prototyping phase.


An industry for design.

The production technology of “cold polyurethane foam moulding,” which was introduced into the sector by the founder of the company in 1966, revolutionised the production of upholstered models, guaranteeing higher quality standards and the creation of products presenting shapes that would otherwise have been impossible to produce. The process entails inserting a metal frame into a mould into which polyurethane is injected. As a result of a chemical reaction, the polyurethane expands and perfectly adheres to the mould's surface. This industrial technology guarantees long lasting, premium quality products.

Grande Papilio: from the idea to the product. A case study

“B&B Italia has something more. Besides the talent of the best designers, it has the advantage of being a real industry with expertise in materials and technology, their potential and limits, besides the resources and equipment required for prototyping and production on a large scale” …. “ doubtless there are differences, which are crucial, the first being the opportunity to work with Rolando Gorla, Director of the R&D Centre, acknowledged by Naoto Fukasawa as a sort of spiritual guide, a master with whom one can empathically share sensitivity for things done well and a global vision of the design industry.”

Naoto Fukasawa wanted an armchair that would naturally convey the impression of comfort by almost outlining the concept of relaxation through an image. Referring to his business interviews with Rolando Gorla, Naoto Fukasawa says that often the starting point was not necessarily the definition of the object but rather the idea of function, and how function could be represented by a shape.

The designer focused on reaching the “hidden” senses, overcoming the predominance of vision and aesthetics to create a sinuous, elegant and “inviting” shape. The seat's profile is designed within a truncated cone. The idea was inspired by the gesture of sitting down gracefully, with the light movement of a butterfly, which is “Papilio” in Latin. A part of The case study is based on the essay “The outline of Thing”, Stefano Casciani - The long life of design in Italy. B&B Italia 50 years and beyond, 2016

The R&D Centre is a genuine industrial research laboratory that is open to the designer's creative stimuli. From prototyping to engineering, the proportions of Grande Papilio have been defined by using a cutting edge 3D modelling software.

Focusing on the highest efficiency standards, and translating these results into practical benefits for the client ensure tangible product quality and comfort. By partnering leading international designers, B&B Italia creates lasting furnishings both in functional and aesthetic terms, “something that is valuable in time,” products that stand the test of time and trends.