Interview: Philippe Starck on his B&B Italia “Oh, It Rains!” Collection

Designed for human experience and the elements, a new range of seating made for the outdoors

Two icons of contemporary design—French designer Philippe Starck and Italian furniture brand B&B Italia—recently teamed up for an outdoor collection called Oh, It Rains! The subtly-hued couches and armchairs of this sophisticated, minimal, and remarkably functional release feature foldable backrests that create a canopy, protecting the furniture from rain, hail and snow. This seemingly simple function actually utilizes an original mechanical hinge developed by B&B and Starck himself.

That splendid practicality leads Starck to explain that the collection is about innovation and much more than putting an outdoor fabric on indoor furniture. He tells us, “This collection is not about style, not about trend, but about the rain. After years of work we developed, with the B&B Italia Research and Development Centre, an original mechanical joint made of aluminum which allows the backrest to easily be use as a protective flap when it starts to rain. But also to be quickly ready as soon as the sun comes back.”

Even more pragmatic, a real-life scenario informed Starck’s approach to the designs. He says, “Imagine you are in a beautiful hotel, enjoying the swimming pool and suddenly it starts to rain… You see hundreds of waiters panicking, picking up all the pillows and cushions to protect it from the rain. There is something wrong in this, I had to make something.” While he says designing for the outdoors is just as important now as it ever was, our approach needs to shift slightly. “What is important today is to stop with ‘fake’ outdoor,” he explains. Rather, we must adjust by “using technology and nature to create collections that adapt perfectly to our environment.”

With nature and pragmatism as driving forces, Starck chose understated but dapper patterns and hues. “The colors and textures represent the poetry of spring and autumn,” he says, “The burnt orange of dead leaves, the tobacco-brown of damp earth and the soft green and taut lines of spring time.”

No stranger to collaborations, Starck adds that partnering with B&B was straightforward. “The main thing is to be in love with the people you are working with and to share the same values,” he says. “With B&B Italia, we wanted to be honest, avoid preconceived ideas of marketing, and take the time to create a product that will last a long time because of good quality and timeless elegance.”

Images courtesy of B&B Italia