When a company reaches the age of 90 in a tough industry like kitchen manufacturing you know there must be a magic ingredient. The Arclinea story begins with the product and the people who have dreamt, thought, designed, innovated, produced and used it. A story that comes alive along a path of family values that have generated, and still generate, excellence.

Arclina “Principia” Wine and Beverage Centre
Arclina “Principia” Wine and Beverage Centre

The story of the Fortuna family is intricately linked to a passion for cooking. When I first met grandson, Silvio Fortuna Jr. twenty years ago I was immediately struck by his passion for excellence. With beginnings in an artisan workshop that his great grandfather had started in 1816 near Vicenza Silvio Fortuna Snr. grew up among the dishes of the town’s Trattoria, run by his parents, well before he was to re-launch as a new carpentry business in 1925 under the Fortuna family name.

In celebration of the Fortuna’s cooking heritage the family decided to specialise in the production of modular kitchens. Having sensed the direction of the economic revolution, under the guidance of the next generation and at the dawn of Italy’s economic miracle in 1960, the Fortuna company became Arclinea.

What followed was a series of innovations which changed the world in kitchen manufacturing forever. In 1963 “Claudia” became the first kitchen with built-in electrical appliances and brought the kitchen out into the house living area, instead of hiding in a tiny cramped backroom work area. During the early 70’s Gamma30 was launched trail blazing with brightly coloured laminates, handle free doors and innovative new components destined to rewrite the aesthetics and functionality of the traditional kitchen; a symbol of lightness and elegance.

Arclina “Principia” Co-ordinated for the Bathroom

In 1979 “Punto” and “Linea” were launched, where the construction enabled clients to invent new spaces, by replacing fixed walls with movable storage walls and walk through units. With the third generation joining the company, the early eighties heralded a new collaboration with architects and designers outside the business. In 1980 Robero Lucci and Paolo Orlandini introduced ‘the Ergonomic Kitchen’ and in 1982 Carlo Bartoli introduced the first free standing kitchen.

In 1988 Antonio Citterio revolutionised everything with “Italia” giving rise to a truly special, unique way of imagining, designing and producing professional restaurant style kitchens for the home. I was very fortunate to have met Antonio around this time through his connections with mutual manufacturers and I immediately recognised the potential greatness that has propelled him to become the world’s leading furniture designer. The current Arclinea collection now spans five highly unique ranges including “Artusi” (1999) “Italia” (2000), “Convivium” (2002), “Lignum & Lapis” (2008), and “Spatia” (2010) – all conceived by Citterio.

When I set out for Milan in April this year I was almost salivating at the thought of another collection by Citterio being launched at Eurocucina 2016 to celebrate Arclinea’s 90th year of innovation and design. I was not to be disappointed. Having made a beeline to the Arclinea stand at 8.30am on day one, I was over-awed by the utter genius of the man who has become my god of design. Antonio Citterio had done it again with “Principia” illustrated here for the first time in New Zealand.

I was over-awed by the utter genius of the man who has become my god of design.

Principia is all about natural materials, innovative production technologies, artisan details and cooking philosophies all merged together. It is all about function and ritual where the kitchen becomes architecture. The kitchen, being Increasingly at the heart of the home, shifts from its role as the focal point in the house, to become a main player in the development of the interior. A space that comes about through the design of functions, the purpose of work and the many shared experiences becoming the substance of living.

Alan Bertenshaw
Matisse International Design