The aim of Arclinea is to produce projects that last, capable of generating the desired kitchen each time. Because, while perfection can exist on paper, it only happens when the project fully meets all the demands made of it: a synthesis of combined values.
The Arclinea response to this complexity has always been to marry technical and practical precision, the innovation of shape and that of space together with the decision, taken many years ago, to work with the designer Antonio Citterio, to produce not only accessories and furnishings, but new architectures for living. Each innovation anticipates the evolution of cooking spaces, always at the service of a design approach that embraces the change with which Arclinea intends to keep alive the great Italian tradition, enhanced thanks to more precise design of tools, materials, shapes and everyday spaces.
Contributing to improvement of the quality of life is, for Arclinea, the real commitment that has guided business choices made over the years and which is evident in all the scopes of its projects. Quality, also intended as protection, therefore, striving to fulfil all the measures needed to respect man and the environment in an industrial sector. An ability for work organisation, perfect integration of the relationship between man and machine, optimisation of times and human resources - these are the ingredients that have made Arclinea one of the companies on the cutting edge of the Italian furnishing industry.
In an age when time is accelerating at an unprecedented speed and science and technology are bringing about ultra-rapid transformations, the very concept of history seems to be fading, at least in the sense of a series of events linked by a chronological and logical sequence. And so we require more than a simple telling of events even when attempting to write the true history of an industry. The essence of a business must be sought in its culture of design and production, which is neither formed nor configured in a matter of a few years; it takes a necessarily long time to express the real identity of a company, which can only develop through duration, consistency and continual validation. In the case of Arclinea, this authenticity is expressed in an inclination to innovate kitchen and living spaces, teamed with the best technical quality.
Words by Stefano Casciani
The company is set up in Caldogno as a specialist wood-workshop. It bears the name of its founder, Silvio Fortuna Senior.
The company’s wood-working activity develops: from manufacture of doors and windows to the production of ‘Swedish-style’ furniture.
THEA, the first modular kitchen in natural wood.
As everyone knows, the events leading to the birth of Italian design in the twentieth century are marked by two World Wars. Big industries like Olivetti and Fiat already have a well-defined image in the early 1900s, which they mature after WW1 and resurrect after WW2. The twenties also mark the start of activity for the Fortuna family business in the residential building sector, mainly in the production of doors and windows, which, due to the precision required for the manufacture of these construction components, have an essential technical DNA. Immediately after World War Two, and still bearing the family name, the company begins to gradually shift towards the production of bespoke furnishings, kitchens included. Through to the fifties, when its lengthy experience in carpentry, also influenced by Scandinavian design, leads to the intuition that the time has come to abandon the “heavy” idea of metal, long used for making constructive elements in kitchens, in favour of the “light” alternative of natural wood. This return to a material that softens the somewhat rigid geometrics of modernist design coincides with a generational handover to the second generation, founder Silvio’s children, who work alongside him in market orientation and product design.
From wood-workshop to company, the birth of the Arclinea brand. The company specialises in the manufacture of kitchen furniture.
CLAUDIA (design A. and L. Fortuna), the first kitchen with built-in electrical appliances.
The production site moves and expansion of the new factory in Caldogno begins.
SILVIA (design A. and L. Fortuna), the kitchen in solid Italian walnut.
NOVIACOLOR (design A. and L. Fortuna), the kitchen that innovates the modern ‘laminate” with colour.
After Turin, Prato and Rome, an Arclinea Centro Cucine opens in Vicenza.
In the same way, the change of name for the company, which becomes Arclinea in 1960, implies a strategic choice: new life for wood as a material teamed with the idea of “modular” furniture featuring modern design, which derives its functional and innovative qualities from the adoption of an industrial standard. The very prefix Arc in fact, is not just the acronym for Arredamenti Razionali Componibili (modular rational furnishings), it also suggests the idea of the kitchen as an architectonic project within the home: true interior architecture. Italy’s economic boom years mean intense, rapid development for Arclinea with gradual progress in industrial production. And when this vocation for innovation comes up against a lack of existing components featuring the same quality as the overall project, integrated solutions are studied and produced: such as Claudia (1963), the first kitchen with built-in electrical appliances, designed and produced ad hoc.
GAMMA30 (design A. and L. Fortuna), the big European modular kitchen with handle-free doors.
MINISPAZIO (design A. Fortuna), the 'home' project by Arclinea: a design and production division for small spaces, for the private residential building sector and the tourism residential sector.
Arclinea ‘advertising’ for the changing times: innovative and outside the box.
Arclinea presents "Cucina in cucina". A recipe book before they were even fashionable: a collection of Italian regional recipes written by Arclinea customers, with an introduction by Mario Soldati.
PUNTO&LINEA (design A. Fortuna), a versatile programme that connects the kitchen to the rest of the home, replacing walls and keeping walk-through units and also inventing spaces and new dimensions.
The overall image is curated by Lele Rossi Molinari, who also works on display kitchens, such as the one for Eurodomus at the Triennale in Milan in 1970—the “FuoriSalone” ahead of its time invented by Gio Ponti—where participation by Arclinea is a must, due to its highly innovative and experimental concept. Here it showcases models (Gamma 30, designed by Almerino and Lena Fortuna) that use plastic laminate on the modular structure derived from the CEN standards for European kitchens defined and introduced the previous year. And the seventies are also spent determining an original market position, combining strategy linked to the industrial dimension, cultural study of future trends in spaces for socialising and a desire not to abandon its artisan experience. Arclinea starts to work successfully in the Contract sector, still today one of its specialisations and a very important part of the Italian and international market.
Lena, Angelo and Almerino, the daughter and the sons of the founder Silvio Fortuna Senior, inaugurate the new factory in Caldogno.
ALISSO (design Lucci and Orlandini), the ergonomic kitchen.
KNOCK DOWN (design Carlo Bartoli), the first free-standing kitchen.
GRES (design Roberto Pamio), the handle-free kitchen is reworked elegantly in a new choice of materials.
ODEON (design Carlo Bartoli), the Arclinea home system.
The Arclinea communication campaign puts the kitchen firmly back in the ‘centre’ of the home.
The company increasingly perfects its ability to anticipate changes in living styles in the eighties, when the arrival of the third Fortuna generation in the company coincides with an ever greater desire to work with designers of different inspiration but with the same high levels of professionalism, teamed with a strong inventive vein. Among others, these include Lucci and Orlandini (the firm L/O), Carlo Bartoli, Roberto Pamio and, from 1986, Antonio Citterio. Regardless of age, these are therefore product designers who are attempting to combine innovation, reliability and, naturally, aesthetic and spatial quality. If I may, I have a personal memory of one of my very early years with Domus magazine, preparing a special long feature on kitchens (issue no. 606). I remember, among others, Alisso, an L/O project that focuses on improving ergonomic features, reworking standard measurements for storage and shelves and comes with ingenious accessories.
ITALIA (design Antonio Citterio), the first professional kitchen conceived for the home.
MEDITERRANEA (design Antonio Citterio), the professional traditional kitchen.
FLORIDA (design Antonio Citterio), the light, versatile kitchen.
ARTUSI (design Antonio Citterio), the free-standing professional kitchen.
The birth of the Arclinea Collection: a recognisable, inimitable “unicum” of solutions.
The arrival of Citterio, who is gradually to become the go-to designer, marks the beginning of yet another era in the company’s culture, more and more closely linked to the planning of a project concept that adheres to a different idea of space for the kitchen and not just that of a product, however perfect in form and function. By the nineties, the kitchen market is, in fact, already “mature” but a rebirth in the culture of food meets the need for big renewal, going beyond the elite limits of Michelin 3-stars to become a real glam mass culture: starting right here in Italy, which manages to preserve its gourmet tradition and supremacy, from homes to restaurants. And so the concept of Italia, Citterio’s first product for Arclinea, is based precisely on the introduction of restaurant kitchen characteristics into the home, underlined by the use of steel and a new “geography” for worktops. Beginning with this functional and cultural choice, Citterio then gradually develops the concept of “collection” (The Arclinea Collection) applied to the entire range.
CONVIVIUM (design Antonio Citterio), the socialising kitchen with the table in the centre.
The birth of the Arclinea Project Division with its Hospitality, Marine and Residential offices: innovative solutions for design needs, all over the world.
Arclinea designs the kitchen for the American residence of the Italian Ambassador in the United States, in Washington D.C. A professional home project that meets the need to prepare up to 200 covers.
LIGNUM ET LAPIS (design Antonio Citterio), the evolution of shapes, materials and layout solutions for the convivial kitchen.
Each new model integrates with the previous ones, in order to create a system of components that are more and more versatile and compatible with each other, enabling free configuration of spaces for cooking and living, through to being able to include different moments of home life—sharing, entertaining, studying—as well, naturally, as preparing and eating food. This is the birth of the convivial kitchen that goes beyond the traditional dining-room (Convivium 2002), developed over the years into a more general idea of flexible space (Lignum et Lapis, 2008).
SPATIA (design Antonio Citterio), the kitchen for multi-functional spaces.
The birth of the Arclinea Design Cooking School (ADCS), the international cookery school network that features Arclinea design.
ARTUSI OUTDOOR (design Antonio Citterio), the open-air kitchen.
GAMMA (design Arclinea Research&Development), the transversal, versatile handle-free kitchen.
After Genoa, Rome, New York and Chicago, Arclinea designs the kitchen project for Eataly in Milan.
From stainless steel to PVD stainless steel: steel now comes in colours, thanks to research and technological innovation.
PRINCIPIA (design Antonio Citterio), a new direction for kitchen furnishings, through unprecedented combinations of materials and colours.
Arclinea joins the B&B Italia Group. This strategic partnership is based on common values of design, innovation, and quality, and a shared approach to production and industry that hinges on excellence.
Arclinea enters the prestigious B&B Italia store in London.
During Milano Design Week, Arclinea inaugurates its new Flagship Store at number 7 Via Durini, the world’s most famous design street.
Opening of the Multibrand Store in Chicago, the first showroom for collections by Arclinea, B&B Italia and Maxalto.
Arclinea, with B&B Italia, Flos and Louis Poulsen, becomes part of Design Holding, the largest European top-end design group.
The Paris-Beaupassage Arclinea Flagship Store opens.
Arclinea inaugurates its new Show Room & Training Center at the production site in Caldogno.
Arclinea celebrates its 60th anniversary.
Arclinea and Antonio Citterio present “The Kitchen Collection”, the new catalogue that gives an up-close look at the exclusive Arclinea Collection.
Arclinea presents THEA: clean-cut lines, new geometrics for details and an absence of handles are the characteristics of the new project by Antonio Citterio, which bears the same name as the first kitchen produced by Arclinea.
New configuration of the production process: heavy investment into machinery, systems, and software to make Arclinea strongly competitive in Industry 4.0 terms by the end of 2021.
Accompanied by marketing activity, important new showrooms around the world, the very recent showroom and training center at the headquarters in Caldogno, design and production of an architectonic furnishing are still, after 60 years, the focus of Arclinea strategy, finding signs of lasting change amongst the order and chaos of today’s status quo, uniting the efforts of designer and producer to extract equipment and spaces dedicated to great living quality from still evolving phenomena. No easy task, certainly, but the collective genius of many people may actually achieve this objective, especially if they are passionate about the alchemy between elements and food that makes the kitchen one of the imagined and real places even more fascinating to rethink and live in.