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A Legacy

July 28, 2016

Celebrating half a century of design excellence this year, B&B Italia’s NYC showroom serves as a veritable runway for some of the sharpest minds in our industry.

You don’t get much closer to furniture couture than B&B Italia. Over the past 50 years they’ve employed many of the greats to bring the intricate details and craftsmanship required of that level of design, tailored to a client’s lifestyle. The legendary Antonio Citterio is one of them—the man responsible for translating the Italian jewelry and watch brand Bulgari into a line of highly successful hotels.

So it was apropos that he would bring a level of luxury to an area often neglected: the closet.

Tara Benet of Tara Benet Interior Design talked us through not just the evolution of this brand and its influence on her career when we met up at their East 58th Street location, but also introduced us to Backstage: a wardrobe system designed by Citterio for B&B Italia that serves as a shining example of their future.

“I love how everything is lit,” Benet said of the showroom. “My clients are always asking me for everything to be viewed easily.” Certainly not a problem as we sifted through surfacing, fabric, and leather options flooded by not just the spotlights overhead but also the sunlight from a banquette of windows overlooking the Bloomberg building across the way. These samples are offerings she is quite familiar with as Benet has been specifying B&B Italia since the beginning of her career eight years ago. It’s the level of detail from bronzed nickel finishes to hand-stitched leather that always keeps her coming back for more.

Patricia Urquiola, Zaha Hadid, Doshi Levien and Jean-Marie Massaud are just a few names that grace (or have appeared on) the floors of the B&B Italia showroom that serves as a one-stop-shop for many. “There’s something really special about the brand,” Benet explained as we made our way through a series of warm, moody vignettes that include not just their extensive line of furniture offerings but lighting and accessories as well. “They have a 50-year tradition of this level of detail and beauty.”

For Benet, the Backstage wardrobe system—featured in a couple of different formats both here and at the brand’s new 9,000-square-foot showroom set to open shortly nearby—opens up a whole new arena for her. “My clients can now have that B&B Italia experience they are used to in furniture, in a way they weren’t able to before. Most closets are mundane, or a little cold. This product brings a level of luxury and glamour to the closet that I haven’t seen.”

Its retractable doors, available in three widths of 72.5, 85, and 97.5 centimeters, are a huge plus, due to the smaller footprints she’s often faced with in both commercial and residential projects.

Benet has also enjoyed watching B&B Italia expand their offerings as she has in her own practice. “When I started my career I was mostly doing interior furnishings, and as I’ve become more senior in what I do, I’m a lot more involved in the interior architecture,” she said, drawing comparisons to how Backstage brings the brand’s renowned attention to detail found in their furniture to products more ingrained in the infrastructure of a space.

“Clients drawn to B&B are drawn to the same luxury in dressing themselves,” Benet said. Backstage delivers a glamorous backdrop to match the goods they put on their bodies. “It offers a way to see yourself that inspires you and helps you show yourself to the world.”

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