The 1980's ended with the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the Cold War. The decade that followed turned out to be a epochal turning point on a global scale. The 20th century, which the historian Hobsbawm defined as the “the brief century”, ended a decade early. The 20th century, which saw two world wars, was now witnessing the sunset of its ideologies. What followed was an interconnected, globalised world, the likes of which had never been seen before.
Technological progress radically changed societies and lifestyles. The advent of the Internet made it possible to communicate with the whole world whilst sitting comfortably at your computer. In a similar way, the spread of mobile phones changed the daily habits of millions of people forever. The era of global communication was at the door. The media were ever-increasingly able to influence and mould public opinion. They were now able to show even the most brutal stories in real-time, such as the Gulf War and the siege of Sarajevo.
The power of the image had grown enormously and advertising had become more sophisticated and targeted, offering an ever-increasingly personalised style, tailored to individual needs and tastes. This trend towards customisation was also reflected in the world of fashion and design: mobile phones, the true must have items of the new generation, were available in an infinite range of colours, with changeable covers to match your look.
The same happened with another item that became the symbol of those years, the Swatch: one model, lots of graphic variations. iMacs, with their highly curated designs and bright colours contributed to the growing success of Apple. Rino Snaidero, with his eye on the marketplace as always, also understood this desire for the “new”, for original products that broke the mould and were as customised as possible. The aim of that decade was to overcome the standardised visual impact that kitchens tended to have before then, each one unifying itself to the others with the handle type and door colour as the only distinguishing features.
The time had come to take a risk and try something really different. This is how the collaboration with Paolo Pininfarina came about, lasting throughout the 1990's. Already an established name in the field of automotive design, Paolo Pininfarina transferred his research in the fields of ergonomics and functionality to kitchen design, thinking of kitchens as "machines for living in". This led to Ola, a design characterised by a strong architectural component and three-dimensional layout. Extremely clean and yet sinuous lines, where everything, from the extraction hood to the sink, is designed to allow for the best and most comfortable use of the spaces and appliances.
Ola earned Snaidero an important award: in 1996 it was given the extremely prestigious "Chicago Athenaeum" design award for architecture. In the field of fashion, the 1990's continued to be dominated by the large Italian fashion houses: Armani, Versace and Valentino. These names were joined by two young designers that loved to astound the audiences of haute couture shows with their provocative catwalk shows: Dolce & Gabbana. Wild combinations, visible bras, prints that often drew on and reinterpreted the great masterpieces of Italian art, the D&G woman was bold and modern, catching you off guard and surprising you. The look was just like the models and stars photographed by David LaChappelle, which revisit Warhol's pop art – whom he met when he was very young - with his surreal and dreamlike style.
As we have already seen, to go “beyond” the conventional, to search for a truly personal style, was the distinctive feature of this decade. Also Viva, the second kitchen designed by Pininfarina for Snaidero, points exactly in this direction. In this case the innovation centres around the materials: different types of glass and steel were processed using cutting-edge technologies. The glass in the wall units, for example, is curved like a windshield. It was created using techniques taken directly from automotive design.
In addition to the success of the new models, Snaidero also celebrated two other big occasions during the 1990's. 1996 marked the 50th anniversary of the company's birth. In the same year, this milestone was accompanied by another, the 75th birthday of Cavalier Rino Snaidero. On this occasion he stepped down as chairman and left the running of the company to his son Edi, who was already CEO.
Under the guidance of Edi, a mechanical engineer who had worked at the company since 1984, Snaidero began another important period of development. It's internal structure was reorganised and optimised, strategic acquisitions of other companies were brought to a conclusion and the company became even more focused on technological research.
The story continues…
Archivio fotografico Snaidero
Archivio Wikimedia Commons
Moodboard n.1: oltre alle cucine Snaidero, iMac Apple, Nokia 3310, orologi Swatch.
Moodboard n.2: Cucine Snaidero modello Ola, Ferrari 456 GT a firma Pininfarina.
Moodboard n.3: Cucine Snaidero modello Viva, Abito Venus di Dolce&Gabbana (collezione 1993) e David LaChapelle “Rebirth of Venus”