The Camaleonda Craze…

If you are seriously into Interior Design and home decor then chances are you’ve seen the Camaleonda sofa everywhere as of late. Magazines, internet news and of course on Social Media by Influencers all over.

A brief background on the Camaleonda sofa:

B&B Italia, the ONLY certified manufacturer of this sofa, after a nearly 40 year hiatus, has started to manufacture it again. It’s original inception was in 1970 by Mario Bellini for B&B Italia, making this piece 50 years old yet still innovative and timeless.

In its new version, Camaleonda preserves the elements that have made it an iconic piece of furniture. Certain elements remain faithful to the original project, such as the 90×90 cm seat module, the backrest and armrest, and the characteristic capitonné design, still manufactured with the innovative system of cables, hooks and rings created by Bellini in 1970, which defines its characteristic look and modularity. Internally, instead, it has been completely redesigned to make Camaleonda even more comfortable than the original, as well as sustainable.

B&B Italia
The Camaleonda Sofa by Mario Bellini for B&B Italia

Ever since I was a bright-eyed, aspiring Interior Designer still in school I’ve coveted this piece (along with many others). It was fresh, exciting, modern, fun and modular and at the time nearly 25 years old! B&B Italia stopped making the sofa in 1979 but collectors and designers could still find original/vintage items in auctions. When something withstands the test of time, is still in demand and iconic decades later then you know it is truly a remarkable piece.

In 2020 the sofa was re-released by B&B Italia (Mario Bellini) and caused quite the bruh-ha-ha all over the design world. The downside of this popularity? Now some companies are making and marketing the sofa under the same name. Unfortunately, as is the way with “knock-offs”, they are nowhere near the original quality. The “reproduction” of this iconic piece has some very excited because for the first time they can afford and own the “Camaleonda” for literally a fraction of the original. If you buy a knock-off you will be wasting your hard-earned dollars on something that not only will not withstand the test of time, it will not hold it’s original value and is not an investment piece. More often than not knock-offs will fall apart and show signs of wear and tear much easier.

Buyer Beware!

When buying any authentic reproduction there are a few things you should be aware of:

  • An authentic reproduction is made and sold by authorized manufacturers & dealers only.
  • Take note of the spelling and writing of the advertised product name. For example: The original title of the the ‘Camaleonda’ sofa is ‘Mario Bellini “Camaleonda” Sofa for B&B Italia’ or a variation of those exact words. Knock-off items will intentionally misspell the title or leave key words out.
  • An authentic reproduction will come with papers. This paper is a certificate of authenticity and will include an item number/serial number.
  • Most authentic reproductions will have a stamp on the underside of the product that has the original designers name.
  • If the price seems to good to be true then it is a cheap knock-off. Guaranteed. End of story.
  • No short cuts or value engineering are made in authentic reproductions. All materials and components are top notch. The construction is flawless and made to last a lifetime.

The original Camaleonda Sofa on 1stDibs

Shown above this is an authentic Mario Bellini ‘Camaleonda’ for B&B Italia sofa. Notice the price? The official reproduction and newly released, updated version of this sofa is fairly consistent with above cost as well. A three piece new reproduction of this sofa will set you back $20,000 easily.

I am not going to condone anyone for wanting a beautiful, iconic designer piece but if you do choose to buy a knock-off version at least you can be educated on exactly what you are getting for your money and managing your expectations for what you are getting. Have you ever heard the expression “Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten” ? When it comes to original pieces vs. knock-off this should be a hard-fast rule to abide by.

Until next time my friends!

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