You started collaborating with Arclinea in 1986. Tell us about the social and market context at that time, and how the concept of the Italia kitchen came about.
With Arclinea, there was a clear objective from the start, namely to follow a path of innovation, something that had always been part of the company’s DNA. By the mid-eighties, the “modern kitchen” that Arclinea itself had helped to spread, had reached a phase of manifest maturity. We were seeing the first signs of a new-found culture of food that went beyond elite Michelin-starred borders and was destined to become a real mass glam culture. It all stemmed from Italian cuisine, which had managed to preserve its tradition and gastronomic supremacy at every level. Probably more of an intuition than full awareness, the world of professional cooking was what provided our inspiration. This was the birth of Italia, accompanied by a claim that is still modern today: “Professionalism in the kitchen.”
What are the general characteristics of this project?
Professional kitchens stand out for the functionality and efficiency they manage to guarantee. Hence the choice of steel: inalterable, pure and resistant to water and flame, and technically worked with the precision required for optimum functional performance. Following the same principle, we focused much of our attention on the operational aspect: deeper worktops, rationalised and organised for preparation and cooking, with double sinks, one for food and one for pots and pans. Every design choice was guided by the primary objective of providing the correct tools for maximum quality results. These characteristics, then extended to the entire Collection, are the reason Arclinea is deliberately chosen by many cookery schools.
Every design choice was guided by the primary objective of providing the correct tools for maximum quality results.
So is the value of the Italia project closely linked to its technical and functional qualities, to the performance it offers?
I am convinced that the world of the professional kitchen, our source of inspiration, is also an ideal aesthetic benchmark offering suggestions to satisfy desires and immaterial expectations. Like the pleasure of interpreting the typical gestures of chefs reaching up for their tools hung from accessorised island hoods, free to move pots and pans around on large worktops, in an operational environment where everything is on view.
The professional sector has different requirements, in terms of both function and size, to the home kitchen. How did you tackle this aspect?
We obviously strived to translate these aspects on a smaller scale, in proportion to the home dimension, as well as perfecting details of form. As with the handle, inspired by professional models, but with a construction reworked to quality standards typical of a top-end kitchen: still today a large part of its manufacturing process is manual.
The experience of the Italia project has definitely been fundamental for development of the entire Collection.
Today the Arclinea Collection comprises various models that share equipment and system options. In this extremely complex, multi-faceted scenario, what role do you think Italia plays?
The experience of the Italia project accompanied by in-depth analysis of the technical and functional aspects of the world of professional cooking has definitely been fundamental for development of the entire Collection. Over time we have elaborated a single, huge system that includes different models to be used together with complementary accessory solutions: from worktops to suspended extractor hoods, internal accessories and built-in tables. Without doubt, all this guarantees extreme design freedom, while still respecting the real needs of the kitchen environment. I see Italia as the true precursor of the Collection; I like to think of her as a timeless model, precisely because she expresses a tangible, obvious idea of quality where nothing appears superfluous.
Art direction: Juma
Shooting and editing: Forte