Interview Giorgio Busnelli, B&B Italia’s CEO

B&B Italia’s CEO Giorgio Busnelli talks about his family business and
its latest shop partnered with colourliving.

The evening of 9 March was a special one for Giorgio Busnelli. Along with William and Denise Lau of colourliving, as well as leading Hong Kong interior designers, architects and special guests, B&B Italia’s CEO officially unveiled his brand’s new Hong Kong showroom. Spanning an entire floor in the same building on Lockhart Road as colourliving, it features panoramic sea and mountain views to either side. Yet the furniture stole the show. Each collection had its own area, allowing guests to walk around it, test it, sit on it and envision how it may work in their own home. From Antonio Citterio’s lush fittings and materials seen in the walk-in closet dubbed Backstage to Patricia Urquiola’s fun and flexible Tufty-time '15 sofa, the collections resembled curated pieces in an art gallery.

“Thanks to colourliving’s consolidated experience and professionalism, the new store aims to be a platform of quality and represents an important showcase in a market that is increasingly sensitive to design,” Busnelli believes. “The store presents B&B Italia’s collections, fully respecting the images of the brand through settings of unique visual language. Furthermore, colourliving provides a holistic service, sharing with the client the latest views on home living trends. The team is an excellent ambassador for our brand and effectively transfers our values, design philosophy and lifestyle.”

Busnelli grew up in northern Italy, in Novedrate near the alpine mountains of Como. His father founded B&B Italia in 1966 and asked his son to join in 1973; Busnelli was still in school at the time. “My father was eager to execute his vision and intuitions for furniture design,” the younger Busnelli recalls. “It sounded like a real challenge, but I had no hesitation. He was a pioneer with unrivalled skills—he transferred to me his passion for design, his international and industrial vision, curiosity, the desire to be different, and his attention to detail and quality. At a time when classical furnishings seemed to be the only possibility, he dreamed of an industry for design. His dream came true thanks to his courage and determination.”

From the beginning, alongside its streamlined aesthetics and reflection of contemporary culture, B&B Italia showcased the creativity of architects and designers. “Sometimes designers bring us an idea and we try to translate it into a design product that respects the DNA of B&B Italia,” Busnelli explains. “Other times, we give them a brief for a specific product to be developed. We work with more than 25 designers who offer their ideas, which are critically analyse to ensure they are in line with our brand image while at the same time respecting their design philosophy. Our collaboration with Antonio Citterio started about 40 years ago and has contributed in a significant way to B&B Italia’s success. Antonio is not only an architect that I respect enormously—he is also a friend. He has the extraordinary ability to capture people’s changing living style, and even anticipate them. Our synergy is very strong.”

For Busnelli, who take pride in B&B Italia’s devotion to research and development—“the R&D centre is actually the mind and heart of B&B Italia,” he quips—the fact that his furnishings subtly yet unmistakably espouse the Made in Italy label is an essential component. “The Made in Italy label is almost a brand itself,” he states. “It is undoubtedly the culture of savoir faire, and we’ve been transferring this from generation to generation. It represents excellence in every field: food, travel, fashion and, of course, design and lifestyle. For us, it’s about creativity, top quality, beautiful details, good taste and elegance combined with a strong content of research, innovation and technology. B&B Italia is recognised worldwide as a leader in the contemporary furniture field—a key player in the history of Italian design and an ambassador of Made in Italy excellence.”