The “Tutto Ponti. Gio Ponti Archi-Designer” exhibition at MAD in Paris is a retrospective combining architecture, furniture, ceramics, lamps and glass. Yet one of the stand-out pieces is undoubtedly the most precious coffee machine in existence: the legendary La Pavoni model D.P. 47. Better known as La Cornuta, the model is a real design masterpiece, striking the perfect balance between sculptural lines and technological innovation. It’s rightly considered the most sought-after collectors’ item in existence when it comes to espresso machines.
This curvy, metal sculpture features a cylindrical tank section from which the outlets jut out, giving the machine the name La Cornuta [literally, The Horned One]. This model is one of only two left in existence and the only one always visible to the public. Fortuitously discovered in an abandoned hotel on the Emilia-Romagna coast, the machine was lovingly restored to its former glory by the collector and restorer Enrico Maltoni. This machine was steam-operated, producing a cup of coffee without cream. As Gio Ponti himself said back in 1948, it concealed “the toil of its labour”, revealing only lines of pure beauty.
This pure beauty can be appreciated to the full with a visit to the “Tutto Ponti. Gio Ponti Archi-Designer” exhibition, featuring over 500 objects by the wonderfully creative architect, who often took on private commissions. “Ponti’s ‘problem’ was abundance,” jokes Salvatore Licitra of the Gio Ponti Archives, the curator of the exhibition together with Olivier Gabet, Dominique Forest and Sophie Bouilhet-Dumas. In addition to tables, chairs, bookcases (included the celebrated Superleggera, designed for Cassina), the exhibition showcases rugs, Richard Ginori porcelain and even a long storyboard which depicts scenes from Luigi Pirandello’s Henry IV and La Cornuta.
Loans for espresso design
The loan of Gio Ponti’s La Cornuta is no one-off illustration of the Cimbali Group’s commitment to promoting the culture around coffee and espresso machines through the use of unique cultural settings, starting with its activities at MUMAC. The museum has a great many links with museums in Italy and around the world. In addition to the loan of Ponti’s La Cornuta, MUMAC recently lent the Pitagora, the only coffee machine to have won the Compasso d’Oro award, to La Triennale di Milano for an exhibition dedicated to its designer, Achille Castiglioni.
Events, cinematographic productions and prestigious exhibitions have featured coffee machines lent by MUMAC over the years. Partners include La Triennale di Milano (in addition to the current Castiglioni exhibition, “Arts & Food” in 2015 and “Storie. Il design italiano” in 2018 are worthy of mention), the Cube Design Museum in Kerkrade, Netherlands (“Passione Italiana – L’arte dell’Espresso” in 2018), the Korea Foundation in Seoul for the “Espresso Design” exhibition in 2017, the Istituto Tomie Ohtake in San Paolo, Brazil for the “A idèia de forma: design italiano do pus-guerra” exhibition in 2016, the Museo do Cafè in Santos (“Espresso design” in 2015) and the Museo di Storia Naturale in Milan (“Food. La scienza dai semi al piatto” in 2015).
By sharing pieces that document the evolution of espresso coffee machines, MUMAC aims to raise awareness of Italy’s excellence in the field, with joint projects organised in partnership with prestigious cultural institutions in Italy and around the world. These include its membership of Museimpresa, the Italian Association of Company Museums, and of ICOM (International Council of Museums) Italia, the benchmark for professionals and institutions operating in the museum sector. MUMAC also collaborates with Kartell Museum, Fondazione Achille Castiglioni and ADI (Industrial Design Association). It is a partner of MUSA – Museo del Gusto, a sponsor of Fondazione Museo del Ciclismo Madonna del Ghisallo and is twinned with the Museu Do Cafè in Santos, Brazil.
Because there are always opportunities for cultural development.