Cini Boeri (Cini, diminutive of “piccinin”, “small”) died on September 9th, 2020, aged 96. A world-famous Italian architect and designer, by a curious coincidence, she passed away on the day of the Compasso d’Oro 2020 award ceremony, an award she received twice: first, for the Strips sofa, and in 2011 as a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Graduated from Politecnico di Milano in 1951, Cini Boeri started working with Marco Zanuso after a short internship at Gio Ponti’s studio. In 1963, she set off her own practice in Milan, the city where she was born and always lived. During her very long career, she designed some products that made the history of Italian design, some of which are still in production, testifying to their worthiness.
Strips sofa, the revolution in the living room
Designed for Arflex in 1968, the Strips sofa won the Compasso d’Oro Award in 1979. Despite being a vintage piece, its revolutionary concept makes it suitable for our times. Strips is a modular sofa with a wood and metal frame, padded with differentiated-density polyurethane. In 1969, it was the first time that non-deformable polyurethane met a wood frame. Strips is a deconstructed modular sofa, with a fully removable quilted cover. It is also a sofa-bed based on a very simple principle: open the quilted cover and the sofa turns into a sort of sleeping bag in an immediate and comfortable way.
Bobo, the recomposed seat
For Arflex Cini Boeri designed also the Bobo armchair, in 1967. Bobo, Bobolungo, Boboletto represent 3 generations and 3 ways of seating depending on one’s posture and age. Bobo was made of non-deformable polyurethane, with a poplar base, covered with a stretch fabric.
Another experimental product designed for Arflex in 1971 was Serpentone, a continuous sofa to be bought by the meter, formed by polyurethane foam modules that were juxtaposed and glued. The 37 cm modules where injection molded with a lamellar section that made it possible to create both concave and convex curves.
Finally, in 1974 Cini Boeri designed for Arflex also the Bengodi sofa, reinterpreted in 2009 as Ben Ben.
Cini Boeri’s work in design did not stop there. Over time she worked with the main Italian and international companies, including Gavina, Knoll, and, more recently, Fiam and Magis.
Cini Boeri and glass
With an uncommon piece of furniture, Ghost, produced by Fiam in 1987, Cini Boeri tried her hand at an armchair entirely made of glass. A single curved and enveloping line, a design challenge that the architect took up with the pioneering spirit that always characterized her work.
Architecture by Cini Boeri
Among Italy’s first women in architecture, Cini Boeri left her mark also with her buildings. In the Sixties, she designed holiday homes in Sardinia, including casa Bunker and Villa Rotonda, on La Maddalena, in 1967, and La Sbandata, again on La Maddalena, in 2003. These homes share the same ability to fit easily into a distinctive landscape, subject to environmental restrictions. In addition to the homes on La Maddalena, Cini Boeri designed other private houses and worked on numerous interior design projects including many showrooms and stores. [Pictures of the buildings from ciniboeriarchitetti.com]