Joe Colombo Boby 3 Portable Storage System 1969

  • Not on view

Colombo’s designs captured the seductive spirit and breakneck speed of technological advancement in the West after World War II and advocated for the deployment of advanced techniques and new materials. From objects and furnishings to entire dwellings, Colombo was interested in building the future, which for him meant a lifestyle that would exploit the versatility of thermoplastics and composites like fiberglass and the systemic open-endedness of modular construction. In his mind, the house of the future would be fluid, its various functions integrated in polymer, composite, or even wood elements, many of which would be movable on casters.

When Colombo took over his family’s electrical conductor business in 1958, the new respon­sibility provided the perfect opportunity for experimentation with industrial manufacturing and equipment, and, perhaps most importantly, it introduced him to the potential of plastics. He applied his interest in modularity to these materials, ABS plastic in particular, when he developed the Boby 3 Portable Storage System in 1969. The compact unit is an all-in-one organization system on wheels, including shelves, bins, and trays. The design presciently conceptualized the idea that furniture should be multifunctional and customizable—a notion attuned to our more recent concept of multitasking. A staple of European homes for fifty years, it remains in production today.

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Bieffeplast S.p.A., Padua, Italy
ABS plastic
29 x 16 x 16 7/8" (73.7 x 40.7 x 42.8 cm)
Gift of Inter/Graph
Object number
Architecture and Design

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].