The Camaleonda sofa, designed by Mario Bellini in 1970, takes its name from the Italian for chameleon (“camaleonte”) and wave (“onda”) – a hybrid which speaks to the adaptability and buoyancy of the shape-shifting design icon. While the modular system allows for countless combinations, the undulating, capitonné form of the sofa is immediately recognisable. Bellini compared those curves to sand dunes and ocean waves – so it makes sense that the Camaleonda might find itself at home in Los Angeles, poised between the beach and the desert.
When B&B Italia reissued the Camaleonda in 2020, the design community took full advantage of the limitless options for custom upholstery and architectural arrangements. In the context of a 1920s Spanish Mission style home in West Hollywood, the Camaleonda takes on a very different mood from its counterparts in Milan, Paris – or anywhere in the world, for that matter. The velvet upholstery subtly reflects the tone and texture of a contemporary painting by Yoon-Young Hur with elements of hanji; meanwhile, the form of the Camaleonda becomes continuous with the aspects of Korean heritage evoked by a pair of 18th century minhwa paintings and a moon jar by Nancy Kwon. The paintings are pointedly hung a little lower on the wall, the plinth and coffee table can be reached seated or kneeling.
Although European in origin, the Camaleonda is equally compatible with a culture where dining, sleeping, and socialising has traditionally taken place at floor level. Likewise, its audacious design profile is well suited to Los Angeles domesticity. As a symbol of cosmopolitanism and comfort, the Camaleonda owes its enduring appeal to its capacity to tap into different wavelengths – it is perennially contemporary.