In 2015, The illustrious Italian architect and designer Mario Bellini celebrated a 50 year partnership with high-end furniture manufacturing company Cassina, with a speaking tour through New York, Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver.
The decades-long collaboration has produced some of Bellini’s most popular designs, including the iconic cab chair. Designed in 1977, the Cab Chair continues to be one of the most sought after pieces in the furniture world, with over 500,000 pieces produced. Debuted in a new, fresh color palette April of 2015 at the Salone del Mobile, in Milan, the cab chair was joined by two new additions to the Cab Collection: the Cab Night Bed and the Cab Lounge Armchair.
Heralded as one of the most influential architects of our time, Bellini’s work ranges from urban planning to architecture and design. The 1959 graduate of the Milan Polytechnic-Faculty of Architecture began his work in the architecture world in the early 60s. Bellini’s relationship with Cassina began after a meeting with Cesare Cassina, one of two brothers who created Cassina, where Bellini proposed a table. Bellini’s collaboration with Cassina through the 60s and 70s paved the way for innovative design.
By researching previously unused materials and merging them with technology, structural pieces that spoke of Bellini’s love for design and architecture were born. In 1977, Bellini created the Cab Chair, a structural piece that has withstood the test of time.
The Chair is made with an unseen metal “skeleton” and a fitted cover made from saddle leather that engulfs the body and zippers that run through the profile of the legs. According to Bellini, the cab chair was conceived as an extension of the human body. “I wanted to design a chair and I began with metal. I looked for a material to close the space and decided on leather. It’s the first chair ever made out of leather and it’s a lot like skin and bones,” Bellini says.
Bellini is the recipient of multiple elite architecture awards: an eight-time awardee of the Compasso D’Oro, the Medaglia D’Oro, in 2004, for his contribution to furthering design and architecture in the world and the Ambrogino D’Oro, in 2011, for civic merit awarded by the City of Milan. He has designed revered buildings all over the globe, including the New Museum of the City of Berlin, the Cittanova 2000 in Italy, the Stolitza Towers in Moscow and the Dubai Creek Complex in Dubai.
In 1972, the inventive designer created the Kar'a'sutra, a minimalist mobile home, in collaboration with automobile manufacturer Citroen. From 1985 to 1991, he served as the editor in chief of respected architecture and design magazine Domus. Twenty-five of his designs, including the Cab Side Chair and Cab Armchair, on permanent display at the New York Museum of Modern Art. He is currently working on refurbishing the Brera Pinacotecta in Milan and has various projects at the design stage including a large Residential, Cultural and Sport Complex in Qatar.
The documentary Where the Architects Live, featuring an in-depth exploration into the living spaces of multiple designers, including Bellini, will be released in the United States at the 8th New York Architecture and Design Film Festival, beginning September 28th.
After abundant success in multiple fields, Bellini still carries a desire to create. “I like to invent things, things that are the result of a process of trying, being wrong, re-trying, changing and then going back until it is right,” he says. “It’s a journey”. ■
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