ORIGINAL PTOLOMEO Bruno Rainaldi / 2003 - 2013

Original Ptolomeo is the free-standing bookcase that doesn’t require any further presentation: it is essential, revolutionary, innovative, as sudden as an intuition and as surprising as its success.

Original Ptolomeo is a container that hides its shape to enhance its content, eliminating the “superfluous” to highlight the essential, namely the books. The bookcase is a steel column to which thin shelves, also in steel, are attached. The shelves gradually disappear as the column is filled with books. When it is full, Original Ptolomeo becomes totally imperceptible and it appears as if the books are standing up on their own.

Designed by Bruno Rainaldi, winner of the 2004 Compasso d’Oro, Original Ptolomeo stems from observation rather than from a formal process and translates an idea that is as simple as it is ingenious: turning a pile of books into a design object. A bookcase that is as essential as it is bold, so as to become a contemporary icon, a harmonious piece of art. Like all pieces of art, it is autographed on its base with the designer’s signature.

Available in three different heights, Original Ptolomeo rests on a solid base – in stainless steel or lacquered, coordinated with the frame – suitably studied to ensure its full stability.

Slight, tall and essential: it takes up little room and can be placed in any context, from the more traditional to the more contemporary, also thanks to the different finishes (matt black, glossy white, stainless steel or matt corten effect) that allow it to adapt to all kinds of environments.

At the Salone del Mobile 2024, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Compasso d'Oro, a Limited Edition was presented that faithfully replicates the original design with which Bruno Rainaldi competed for and won the award. The column and shelves have returned to being made from the same black railway sheet metal, making each piece essentially unique. The metalworking process – involving high heat followed by rapid cooling – creates distinctive blue/purple photoluminescent hues on the surface, giving the material a raw, industrial appearance.

Produced in 100 pieces, the Limited Edition is also enriched with a numbered commemorative plaque attached to the structure.

Original Ptolomeo is a tribute to books and to he who history recalls as being the first person to have taken care of them: Ptolemy I Soter, whom we owe the idea, in the 3rd Cent. b.C., of establishing the Royal Library in Alexandria in Egypt.

“Piles of books on the studio tables, too many to do the dusting. Piles of books on any other table in the house, that you have to remove every time you need to lay the table. A pile on the bedside table to the left, and another one on the floor, just beside the bed. Some more books on the right. On the chest in the entrance hall – belonging to some great grandmother and having experienced more than a few moves – a forest of piles has grown up. Forgotten, uncut books swallowed up who knows where. This is my home. This is what happens in all the houses where books, such an essential fuel of life, are cherished. Looking at the piles, being charmed by their height that seems to defy the laws of gravity. Turning this amazing image into a real object. Ptolomeo act one. Dedicated to the person who first collected everything that had been written, with intelligent passion, without censure or fear.”

Bruno Rainaldi