A focus on the future and industrialisation, the birth of the automobile and the first coffee machines in the quintessential Art Nouveau Style
In Italy, in 1884, the “Gazzetta Piemontese” (which would later become “La Stampa” in Turin) announced the launch of a “beautiful machine for making coffee”. This was Angelo Moriondo’s invention which, although still farremoved from the first espresso machines, had the advantage of offering the growing number of coffee lovers a high-quality drink that was not yet prepared ‘cup by cup’ (i.e. made specifically for the customer who requested it), but rather ‘instantly’ and in large quantities in the special container with which the machine was equipped.
Regimes and colonial wars usher in difficult years. New establishments open. Channelling the rationalist style of the era, Giuseppe Cimbali - a hydraulic copper worker - builds new coffee machines
Following the First World War and the Wall Street Crash of 1929, Western countries suffered severe problems in every aspect of economic, productive and social life, with severe consequences. The US financial crisis witnessed a drastic worldwide reduction in all the economic indicators that measure the state of prosperity and progress of a country’s economy: production, employment, income, wages, consumption, investment and savings. Every country independently sought to contain the crisis and rampant unemployment through economic protectionism and interference in the stock markets and central banks, often through state ownership of industries.
Recovery began in the early 1950s, leading to a thirst for innovation. The lever technology revolution gets underway and the café is born
On 11 May 1946, the Teatro alla Scala reopened with “the reconstruction concert” conducted by the acclaimed Arturo Toscanini, who had just returned from the United States where he had self-exiled during Fascism. Milan’s invitation to bounce back anticipated a period of innovation-driven economic and social recovery. Bars became places for gathering and sharing, no longer intended for an elite, but as ideal meeting places for everyone, consecrating coffee at the bar as a social ritual that transcended class distinctions. Riding the wave of affluence and lightheartedness that swept through Italy after the dark years of the war, bars became increasingly crowded and lively places.
Italy discovers the good life: travel, supermarkets and growing sales of TVs and washing machines Coffee machines become design pieces
From two-wheelers to sports cars, from poverty to wealth, from mended clothes to fashionable outfits; two films were shot that perfectly represented the transition from the pre-1960s period: Bicycle Thieves (1948) and Il sorpasso (1962). In the years between these two films, Italy experienced reconstruction and immigration from the South to the North, as well as from the countryside to the city, with the start of the economic boom and widespread prosperity. These were the years in which the triumphs of Coppi and Bartali in previous decades, heroes of a poor, rural country and a nation that was yet to be invented, gave way to Merckx, the first modern cyclist. The champion (and his FAEMA jersey) was a popular subject in bars, where people met to discuss the news reported by the “Gazzetta”, the radio and later, TV. Coffee and cycling, an inseparable combination that endures to this day.
Coffee machines become a symbol of Italian production and the whole world drinks espresso “the Italian way”
The 1980s signalled a change of pace. Following the turbulent and difficult political and social climate of the 1970s, when Italy faced a process of stagnation and inflation of the economic system that threatened to sink the country, many factors contributed to its recovery: the fall in oil prices, the fall in the dollar, the containment of labour costs, public intervention to support businesses, and technological innovations in processes and products. The turning point came in 1980 with the ‘March of the Forty Thousand’, in which employees and managers rebelled against the constant pressure from the unions and the continuous strikes at FIAT. This led to very rapid political and economic renewal that changed the structure of companies and the market, which was increasingly open to free competition with a growing generation of young people in leadership roles. Not only private, but also public enterprises saw an improvement in their situation, to the extent that in 1986 Italy overtook Great Britain in terms of both GDP and per capita income. Italy ‘led’ by young people had a more colourful, international outlook, emulating the British and Americans, but with a clearly defined style.
The widespread consumption of coffee at global level and the changes in social dynamics have impacted the way the social beverage par excellence is consumed.
The dawn of the new millennium, coloured by great expectations and major concerns, dramatically changed the world’s outlook and structure: from the Twin Towers to economic crises and the emergence of climate change and pandemics, the transition was as short as it was significant.
Technology, with exponential speed, has partly eroded culture and interpersonal relationships, but certainly has not diminished the pleasure of a cup of coffee. Bars are no longer the only obvious place to meet: a good coffee or cappuccino can also be enjoyed in the waiting room of a station or airport, in a bookshop or boutique, anywhere in the world. The first years of the new millennium witnessed a return to minimalism in architecture and common spaces.
Memory and the future intermingle in the icons of time. Between new and old galaxies of knowledge to explore, the future is concealed within the past.
Memory and the future intermingle in the icons of time. Between new and old galaxies of knowledge to explore, the future is concealed within the past. Innovating tradition means renewing ideas, giving a new meaning to historical milestones, inventions, customs and habits. A new breath and different feel, while maintaining continuity. This is how shapes become style. Each machine is never just a box for content, but an ever-changing object stimulating all our senses and revealing a set of sensations that change over time and space.