Bombo stool by Stefano Giovannoni

Layout Indaba 2015: the Bombo stool is “the most copied style merchandise in the planet,” in accordance to its designer Stefano Giovannoni.

“In China there are much more than one,000 companies copying the Bombo stool,” the Italian designer told the audience at the Style Indaba conference in Cape Town this afternoon. “It is a big problem.”


Relevant story: “Copyists are eating away at the creativity of our sector”


Giovannoni designed the stool in 1998 for Italian brand Magis and it was an fast success. Featuring a distinctive swivelling, bulbous, injection-moulded plastic seat mounted on an adjustable column that sits atop a chromed-steel base, the product can be located in bars and cafes about the world.

Milan-based Giovannoni revealed that Magis only asked him to layout a stool simply because they had a supply of pistons – the gasoline-filled, shock-absorbing products employed in the stools’ column – that they had no use for.

Stefano Giovannoni_dezeen_sqa Stefano Giovannoni

“It came about by a really lucky situation since the business had in storage one thousand pistons – the pistons that move up and down,” he stated. “They asked me not because they had a vision of the solution but just to use these pistons that they had in storage.”

Giovannoni claimed the item accounted for a signifiant proportion of the brand’s revenue. “The firm, Magis, was actually manufactured by the Bombo,” he said. “The turnover of Magis was for 10 years made far more than 50 per cent by this item.”

The designer mentioned that despite years of legal action, the copying of the stool continued. “The copies value about thirty euros in China, while the authentic charges 365 euros,” he explained. “For ten many years the revenue have been developing and expanding. We attempted to develop numerous legal actions but soon after some time a volume the size of this theatre total of Bombo has been destroyed in countries like Australia. But there were too several organizations copying and it was not possible to cease it.”

He had even spotted Bombo copies on his way to give his Design Indaba lecture, he mentioned: “I have noticed some copies on the stands outdoors the door!”

Giovannoni runs his own studio in Milan, but initially educated as an architect and designer at Florence University in the 1970s.

He went on to grow to be one of the founding members of the Italian Bolidismo group of the 1980s – a cluster of designers that mixed elements of American Futurism, 1930s architectural styles and comic-book graphics. He also founded the King Kong studio with fellow Italian designer Guido Venturini in the exact same decade.

He is very best acknowledged as an industrial designer – largely due to his function for Italian design and style brand Alessi, like the Girotondo collection of metal household appliances made with Venturini, the Mami tablewear variety and the transparent plastic Family Follows Fiction add-ons.

He also produced the Il Bagno Alessi bathroom fittings range in 2002, made by Laufen, and the Panda Alessi Fiat car, which debuted in 2003.

The Style Indaba conference runs until Friday 27 February at the Cape Town Global Convention Centre.

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