Studio BBPR Versatile ‘Spazio’ Table
Studio BBPR for Olivetti, 'Spazio' table, steel, fabric, vinyl, plastic, Italy, design 1959/60, production 1960s
In 1954, Olivetti, the Italian office equipment manufacturer, hired BBPR to design their New York showroom on Fifth Avenue and to create their first series of office furniture, called Spazio (1959/60). This line included chairs, desks, shelving, and cabinet systems, just like the one shown here. This ‘Spazio’ table can be used as breakfast, side or writing table. The olive green fabric tabletop rests on four legs that are connected via horizontal slats to the metal board in the middle. The 'Spazio' won the Compasso d'Oro Award in 1962. Today the desk of the 'Spazio' series is featured in MoMA permanent collection.
Studio B.B.P.R. was an Italian architectural partnership founded in Milan in 1932 by Gianluigi Banfi (1910-1945), Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso (1909-2004), Enrico Peressutti (1908-1976) and Ernesto Nathan Rogers (1909-1969) who had studied at the Politecnico di Milano. B.B.P.R. was thus an acronym formed from the first letters of their family names. The architects found each other in their opposition to fascism in Italy in the 1930s and 1940s during Mussolini's autocratic regime. The architects therefore believed in developing a style that would have no references to contemporary politics. During the Second World War, they all joined the resistance. However, Rogers, a Jew, fled to Switzerland and both Belgiojoso and Banfi were deported to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, where Banfi died in 1945. Despite the immense loss of Banfi, their architectural practice continued in the same name as before after the war. Especially during the 1950s, they created many of their great projects. With their designs, they strongly reacted against the International Style with its rectilinear forms and taut plane surfaces that have been completely stripped of applied ornamentation. Instead, the group enriched their buildings with medieval references. For B.B.P.R., their philosophy on art and architecture is somewhat between tradition and modernism; their use of post-beam structures and modular elements parallels with the constructive thinking of modern architects. However, as modernism rejects the existence of historical forms, B.B.P.R. reinterprets history's heritage and continues with respect for the work of their predecessors. Ernesto Nathan Rogers referred to it as “preesistenze ambientali” (the pre-existing environment) and adopt a “caso per caso” (case by case) interpretation to work with, instead of against, the surroundings. One of their well-known designs is the creation of the Torre Velasca in Milan, with strong references to medieval architecture. The architects were also frequently employed to create interior spaces altogether with furniture designs.
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