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5 July 2021
Simple but revolutionary, Boby is the perfect synthesis of Colombo’s design creativity
The cover of the recently released volume “Joe Colombo. Designer “, published by Silvana, is entirely dedicated to Boby, the container trolley was designed in 1970 and has become an icon of Italian design known and appreciated all over the world. On the cover because it is probably the most famous and familiar project by Joe Colombo who also signed numerous furnishings and accessories that have made school and anticipated in style, shapes and materials, many themes that then exploded in the second half of the 1900s. Think for example of the Minikitchen: designed in 1963 it was the first compact kitchen in a single block, and surprisingly anticipated the reduction of living spaces and the evolution of the kitchen. As well as the Multichair armchair, designed in 1970 as an upholstered piece of furniture that can take on the features of a chair, armchair and lounge, thus providing for what has established itself as a desire to live the living area in a dynamic and informal way.
These are two examples of Colombo’s production that can help us better understand his approach to the project. A right mix of courage, experimentation and concreteness. Features that we also find in the iconic Boby, the container trolley which, thanks to its surprising versatility, lends itself to making any room in the house, but also the workspace, more functional and lively.
It is a piece of furniture designed to develop vertically: it is modular and can therefore assume different configurations that correspond to different heights and respond to different storage needs. The structure is made of a polymeric material called ABS available in a wide range of color variations. The modules consist of drawers and open shelves, complemented by elongated side pockets that increase the storage space and at the same time characterize the appearance of Boby. There are four possible configurations, starting from a height of 31.5cm and reaching 95.5cm. The top can be left bare or covered in light or dark cork, canaletto walnut and natural oak. In all cases the base rests on five polypropylene swivel wheels thanks to which the trolley can be moved and rotated on itself.
The drawers open like a fan, an optimal solution for a chest of drawers on wheels where the classic pull-out drawer would cause it to move. After all, the interaction between user and mobile takes on unique characteristics in Boby, not common to any other furniture in this category. Rotating drawers, swiveling wheels, pockets and shelves make every gesture dynamic and functional.
Next to the desk, in the kitchen, instead of the bedside table. But also in a living room, in an art atelier, in a professional studio. Thanks to the variety of colors and configurations available, Boby knows how to be useful in different environments. It is one of those furnishings that over the years can accompany different moments in different places, with the certainty of being able to count on an undisputed icon. Not surprisingly, Boby is part of the collection of the MOMA in New York and the Triennale of Milan: awards that are rarely attributed to projects for container trolleys. The confirmation of the explosive force of the ingenious simplicity of Joe Colombo who, despite having passed away at the age of 41, left an indelible mark on the history of design: Boby is an important chapter in this story.
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