The Project

Merging coffee and design, a professional challenge

Engineer and designer Valerio Cometti has designed several coffee machines for the Cimbali Group and worked with architect Paolo Balzanelli to create MUMAC. “As being a museum, it is a cultural legacy,” he says

Engineer and designer Valerio Cometti has designed several coffee machines for the Cimbali Group and worked with architect Paolo Balzanelli to create MUMAC. “As being a museum, it is a cultural legacy,” he says

Valerio Cometti, a mechanical engineer and the owner of the Valerio Cometti +V12 Design studio, began working with the Gruppo Cimbali in 2007. Following in the footsteps of the great designers of the past, he helped create a number of coffee machines, starting with the Q10 Barcode. “Before then, coffee had just been an ingredient in my cappuccino,” reveals Cometti with a smile. He was well aware that this was a huge professional challenge: “The best designers in the world had tackled coffee machines in the past, so it was both a source of great pride and great responsibility because it really is a very complex object to design. My studio has operated across every sector - from electronics to eyewear, furniture, lighting and clothing - and this is definitely one of the toughest, because the design has to go hand in hand with the mechanics of the machine.” Cometti was left impressed after receiving a first-hand look at the companies that form part of the Cimbali Group (LaCimbali, Faema, Casadio): “The organisation is a beacon of excellence in Italy. There’s nothing quite like it. Everything is designed and produced internally - market research, design, development, production, sales, assistance. It’s incredible.”

From the M100 to MUMAC

Cometti first restyled the M24 and the M34 models, then designed the Q10 and the S30.The partnership garnered great success, with the S30 winning the Red Dot Award. Cometti and Cimbali enjoyed a good relationship and decided to move forward together. Cometti was commissioned to design the company’s flagship centenary machine, the  M100, The most advanced machine in the sector, it is LaCimbali’s way of celebrating the history of the brand while looking to the future.
In 2010, Comettti’s challenge became even more complicated. As part of the centenary celebrations, the group asked him to design a museum dedicated to coffee machines. Cometti turned to the architect and founder of the Arkispazio studio Paolo Balzanelli, who had a solid background in museum design.

Cultural legacy

“We were given carte blanche,” recalls Cometti. “There were just two requests. They didn’t want it to be a corporate museum, but something that would leave a cultural legacy. And they needed it finished within 11 months!” The 1800m2 building that now hosts MUMAC was previously a warehouse used for returns: “We wanted to make the most of the inside space and tiled roof, which we decided to leave exposed. The industrial area surrounding the museum was a stimulus, not something we wanted to hide.”

Welcoming visitors

Cometti explains that the building façade was designed to showcase the collection of machines and reinterpret the themes associated with coffee machines: “It’s curved and welcomes visitors with a soft embrace, like the billowing waves of coffee-flavoured steam that rise from the cup.” Yet MUMAC was also supposed to be more than just a museum. “We designed it to be a versatile space with a number of additional areas, such as the café, spacious meeting rooms, training centre, tasting room and a large temporary exhibition room with audio and video equipment,” he says. “The room can seat 150 people and hosts initiatives, manifestations and cultural events run by the company and other organisations. It’s a wonderful setting.” The museum looks great at night too, thanks to lighting positioned between the existing cement walls and the curved metal façade.

Six rooms and an explosion

The museum is split into six historical periods of the 1900s in chronological order. It was a century in which coffee machines underwent profound changes, mirroring those affecting the culture and customs of our society. The final room is ring-shaped with a red section in the middle containing a stunning installation: an exploded view of the M100. “It helps visitors to comprehend the technology and complexity inside the machine,” explains Cometti.
So what three words would he use to sum up the museum? “Exhaustive, stimulating, balanced.”
The only thing left to do is visit!