Several of the museum shows that set the cultural course of the late 20th century took place in a single year: 1972. In addition to the “Documenta 5” exhibition in Kassel, Germany, a wide-ranging spectacle that signalled the rise of mass media, and the British Museum’s “Treasures of Tutankhamun,” which opened not only the Egyptian pharaoh’s tomb but the floodgate for travelling blockbusters, there was the Museum of Modern Art’s “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape.” Twelve legendary Italian designers and design groups were invited to create environments in the museum’s galleries, while dozens more presented their works in the sculpture garden, among them Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni’s Arco arching lamp and the Olivetti Valentine typewriter by Ettore Sottsass, who would later lead the colourful Memphis collective.
But among the most revered pieces to emerge from the show was the Camaleonda sofa, created by the architect Mario Bellini, now 85. Chased unceasingly over the years by collectors — it was produced only until 1979 — the sectional had deep tufting that made it resemble a giant roll of Bubble Wrap. Now, for the first time, B&B Italia is rereleasing the 19-piece modular system, in fabric and leather, including this corduroy chenille, providing, in these uncertain times, the perfect living-room refuge.
B&B Italia Camaleonda seat and ottoman, bebitalia.com.
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