Bernhardt & Vella

Paola Vella, Ellen Bernhardt

Milano / Italy

Paola Vella and Ellen Bernhardt founded Bernhardt&Vella Design Studio in Milan in 2008. Paola Vella was born in Assisi (1972) and graduated from the European Institute of Design in Interior Design in 1998. At the outset of her career, she worked for Gabellini Sheppard Associates in New York. In 2001, she returned to Italy, choosing to live in Milan. Ellen Bernhardt, born in Darmstadt (1982), moved to Milan in 2001 to study at the Scuola Politecnica di Design, where she obtained her degree in 2003. The first meeting between the two young designers from Italy and Germany took place in 2003 at the Milan office of architect and designer Carlo Colombo, where they both worked. Their professional bond gradually took form and in 2008 they established Bernhardt&Vella Design Studio in Milan with offices in Corso Monforte. They immediately initiated important collaborations with brands in the sector, working in product and exhibition design, interiors, graphics and art direction with Arflex, Artemide, Arketipo, Bontempi, Calligaris, Elica, Kitchernaid, Natuzzi, Potocco, Rugiano.

Their design method, rooted in the interaction of art and architecture, is based on constant research, making the teachings of the great masters of the past their own and often reworking styles and trends. This approach is manifested in the restyling of the Ex.t shop, a well-known Tuscan bathroom furniture company; they also designed catalogue and the Nouveau line inspired by the Liberty movement for the same company. Their practical and functional products are characterised by soft and sinuous lines. Simplification, subtraction and linearity are their stylistic signatures, defining items that dialogue with both classical and contemporary contexts and spaces. They have repeatedly declared that they bridge design and user, and the individual and everyday life; and that their aim is to seek harmony among the parts to achieve a recognisable, elegant, sometimes ironic style, always attentive to functional and technical detail.

Their best-known products include the EOS lamp for Artemide; the Universe table for Bontempi; and the Liberty coffee tables for Rugiano. In 2021, Calligaris, an Italian design and furniture company based in Manzano, entrusted its creative direction to Ellen Bernhardt and Paola Vella, in continuity with prior collaboration that had led to the creation of products like the Metro and Square sofas, and the Rendez-vous and Alma armchairs. The office seeks to consolidate the company's international image, for example through the design of the exhibit at the 2022 Salone del Mobile. They also designed shows for Rugiano (2022) and Arflex (2019 and 2022) at the Milan international trade fair. ... More ... less

Products designed by Bernhardt & Vella

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