Soft curves and fluid designs. Delicate colour shades. The evanescent vision that can be glimpsed beyond the coloured glass. The beauty of women, so bold and generative in their mysterious grace. The stated desire for innovation. The naturalness that contaminates every detail with magic. I love Art Nouveau, the artistic and philosophical movement that was also known in Italy as floreale (floral). Art Nouveau has always inspired me: it opens my heart and mind and enchants me. Today, I associate it, in actuality and metaphorically, with one of the most beautiful company museums I know: MUMAC.
Indeed, entering the sinuous, fiery waves of Gruppo Cimbali’s museum, the first examples of the Dawn of the espresso machine from the early-20th century have a distinctly Art Nouveau design. The splendid Ideale by Desiderio Pavoni towers above the rest: its dome is decorated with a coffee plant, with the aim of promoting a product that was considered exotic at the time and was little-known to most consumers who, upon “express” request, could taste the unusual extract. Around the room, advertising posters from the time feature languid female figures and an early-20th century Parisian café-style counter, intricately carved with geometric and floral motifs, holds a sugar dispenser that is a marvel of mechanics and aesthetic grace. The sound of opera fills the air, while impressive hats are paraded on the screens on the wall, evoking a period of great change.
Likewise, in the following rooms, I am greeted by huge black and white blow-ups of historic moments in the 1930s. Below, meticulous, perfectly linear rationalist machines are presented, which feature innovative hybrid engineering and clean designs. Every detail is a triumph of rigor and beauty.
Coffee becomes a cult in the next rooms with the Cimbali Gioiello, the Granluce and the first levered Gaggia machine, which proudly alternate with the stylistic exuberance of American Style, embodied by a jukebox, table football and a Mondrian-style bar counter with countless vintage bottles that seem to dance to the period radio music played in the background.
True icons characterized the post-war period, such as the Pitagora, designed by the Castiglioni brothers, the only coffee machine to have won a Compasso d’oro, and a competition bicycle. Your gaze will be entranced by this design context, before you enter the consumption boom room, where, in an atmosphere of escapism and levity, dozens of monitors present fragments from the ’80s and ’90s around professional machines with a unique style and personality, thanks to creations by major international designers such as Giorgetto Giugiaro and Ettore Sottass.
Finally, I am captivated by an explosion of sensations and emotions when I immerse myself among the hundreds of components that characterize our millennium, featuring an incredible exhibit: the exploded view of the M100, which is both a work of art and one of the best espresso machines on the market.
Too much enthusiasm? Possibly, but I certainly feel an incredible energy every time I visit MUMAC. Because those curved walls enclose over a hundred years of history, customs, style, relationships, visions and innovations. The solidity of the machines is tempered by the softness of the rooms, testimonies flourish in contact with the living material that animates them and culture is expressed in innovation. And this red bean, just outside Milan, exudes a fragrance not only of coffee, but also of the opportunity to relive part of our history, to generate new stories ourselves, as well as new visions, new influences and “nouveau interprétations”. Because as an anonymous wise man once said: “Life is what begins after coffee.” I am proud to savour it!
Margherita Pogliani, journalist and digital startupper
She has invented and directed the most innovative content systems on the internet, from Italia Online to Vogue.it, VanityFair, Stream24, Pirelli.com and Mumac.it. She delivers engagement, in order to build a reputation and business, starting from brand history and deep values, through proprietary metrics. For over 25 years, she has directed, created and finalized digital environments and content on multi-platforms that enhance and capitalize on the truest and purest essence of values, products, people and companies, strictly with a focus on co-creation to convey emotions.