Vincent Van Duysen discusses his first collection for B&B Italia’s outdoor line
It is not long now until the wan sun returns to its full strength in the spring and summer months, and we can bask in its warmth. In anticipation, B&B Italia – the contemporary furniture company established in 1966 – has expanded its Outdoor collection with the help of creative director Piero Lissoni and acclaimed Belgian architect-designer Vincent Van Duysen. The former has expanded its sustainably crafted Borea range with variations of sun loungers resembling “landed airplanes” and delicately oval sunbed loungers shaped like “two large eggs”. The latter, meanwhile, imagines an outdoor version of his charming Pablo armchair, first released two years ago, along with a sofa, footrest and concrete optical tables. Originally a reinterpretation of a traditional Spanish armchair and named after the Cubist artist, its essential typology and beautifully uninterrupted form remains largely the same, highlighting the “relation between massing and voids” through masterful joinery and window-like gaps.
Port caught up with Van Duysen to discuss the collection, and how aesthetics may complement practicality.
Where did the idea for the original Pablo armchair come from?
The overall language of the original Pablo armchair has a Latin American touch, traditional but very contemporary at the same time.
What must furniture design accommodate when it lives outside?
Overall design must improve the lives of human beings hence it doesn’t matter if indoor or outdoor. In general, it is crucial to connect the indoor and outdoor spaces so that’s really important when I design outdoor pieces. There needs to be a sense of storytelling so that an outdoor piece has something to say in any dehors.
How does this outdoor iteration evolve Pablo?
Pablo Outdoor boasts a decisive design and innovative proportions, and it breathes life into a series that includes an armchair in two depths, sofa, and footrest. Another characteristic that takes the original Pablo to the next level is the choice of materials. The sturdy yet soft lines of the seats are perfectly balanced in the small cement outdoor tables. Linear, solid, and highly geometric shapes represent the heart of these architectural objects.
Why were the specific materials chosen?
The soul of the original project lies in the wood frame, which is made of teak, the ideal material for outdoors. The continuity of the form and quality of the wood make it particularly pleasant to the touch.
How do the aesthetics of the sofa compliment its practicality?
The geometry of the supporting frame presents a sophisticated balance of straight and curved lines, but this is not just an aesthetic choice. In fact, the frame, with its uninterrupted surface, was designed to ease maintenance of the wood, which is easy to treat as necessary. The rear fabric panels are anchored to rods that can be removed easily. This is also an aesthetic choice that meets a technical solution aimed at simplifying care for the wood and maintenance of the textile parts. These design expedients allow customers to choose between letting it age naturally or have it returned its original condition.
What is your favourite activity when reclining outside?
Well, taking in the sun, reading, meditating, simply relaxing.
Photography Tommaso Sartori