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If Bonaldo were a person, it would be like Iris Apfel or Vivienne Westwood. An elegant eighty year old woman, a style icon, a distinct presence, with just the right dose of eccentricity and an ever changing personality.
An award-winning brand that still has its feet firmly on the ground, proud of its origins yet a citizen of the world, capable of bearing in mind its own historical background as well as looking towards the future.
Now in its third generation, Bonaldo is a family-run business like most other long-standing Italian firms.
This firm has adapted to the changing times and so has established itself on the international scene, playing a crucial role in shaping the history of industrial design. Bonaldo could be thought of as having chameleon-like qualities, capable of adapting to the needs of a changing market: it was in 1936 in the Veneto region and for the next twenty years it specialised in metalwork, making beds, bed frames and mattresses.
Then soft furniture arrived on the scene, beginning with sofa-beds. It might be something that we take for granted nowadays, but it’s thanks to Bonaldo that these multi-purpose designs have evolved from being practical solutions for occasional guests to being pieces of furniture in their own right.
Following the same logic, in the year 2000 Bonaldo started to work with designers and architects: a constant challenge to find new inspiration and ideas and experiment with new materials and manufacturing techniques.
In that way, this firm from Padova expanded to include over 220 different product types, such as beds, sofas, armchairs, accessories, tables and chairs. Thought up by the best designers from around the world, but strictly made in Italy.
If I had to pick one of Bonaldo’s most distinctive features, I would go for how the brand combines different materials to make a product look bold and dynamic.
Take a look at Big Table, Alain Gilles’ masterpiece: the table’s distinct silhouette has become iconic by now. The four interconnecting slanted legs in laser-cut steel accentuate the thinness of the top in either crystal or solid wood.
Designed in 2008, Big Table was shown at the Salone del Mobile the following year and won the Good Design Award. However, it wasn’t until a couple of years later that Big Table was recognised as the brand’s best-selling product.
Like a good book, Bonaldo’s key table can be interpreted in different ways: deceptively simple, it understates the complex balancing act between the dynamic legs and the static top. To quote Alain Gilles, this design is based on simplexity, a synthesis between simplicity and complexity: the French designer considered this principle to be pivotal to his work.
Bonaldo has big ideas of course, but at a time when people are living increasingly in small and multifunctional spaces, the brand had to explore the versatility angle too.
Sofa-beds, chair-beds and dressers that become writing desks. Allies to living in tiny rooms, without stinting on sophistication and attention to detail. The mirrors, too: by playing with perspective and depth, these functional accessories multiply the space, showing us a room beyond the room.
On the other hand, the perfect home reflects the personality of its inhabitants: this is why Bonaldo makes multi-faceted furniture. Made from the same materials but brightened by contrasting shapes or finishes, futuristic or eccentric, they share the lives of the people who use them, without growing old. Magical design.
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