Were we to pick out one single image to sum up the spirit of the Sixties, we would not think twice about choosing a photo taken on that legendary night of 21 July 1969 when Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon, watched in disbelief by the whole world. "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" were the words of the American astronaut and we couldn't put it better ourselves. This feat marked the pinnacle of a golden decade characterised by economic growth, social progress and technological innovation all around.
Back at Snaidero this decade had got off to an equally roaring start when the new industrial plant was inaugurated on the 9th January 1960 in Majano del Friuli (Udine) in what was called at the time viale Europa Unita but which now bears the name of Rino Snaidero, since decorated for his service to industry and conferred the honorary title of Cavaliere del Lavoro. And this would be the birthplace of Italy's first open-plan kitchen in true American style: modular, fitted and easily adaptable to any kitchen - regardless of size or shape.
Complete with household appliances specially designed for Snaidero's production range and equipped with extractor hoods, pull-out units and internal swivel shelves. At the time, these innovations were all incredibly ground-breaking; indeed, the Gloria kitchen came away with the Mercurio d’Oro prize in 1966 for its contribution to high-quality enterprise - this was our Fitted Kitchen's very first Oscar.
But Rino Snaidero also sensed that the look of a kitchen was not to be underestimated: the kitchen was a family gathering place and a place to share dreams....dreams of an "American Way of Life" depicted by cinema, music and glossy magazines and eagerly lapped up by the new generations. A vibrant and sparkling lifestyle, not unlike the pop songs blaring out from the jukeboxes; these carefree musical notes wafted throughout Italy brought by the itinerant musical caravan of the Italian Summer festival, Cantagiro, where new upcoming artists like Gianni Morandi, Bobby Solo, Rita Pavone and Caterina Caselli reinterpreted the cover versions of trendy American hits and the cadenced refrains of Beat music.
And Snaidero followed suit with its kitchens: the new model "Old America" stole the scene by merging an innovative and well-thought out unit layout whilst the colours and overall look brought to mind the immense freedom of the vast American prairies. It was a nod to that substantial market share which shied away from pure vanguard rationalism. A colourful and cheerful kitchen just like the music and fashion of those years.
Fashion took to the wing just like the emancipated woman it dressed who by now held her own in the productive and social life of Italy; a woman whose self-assurance grew in inverse proportion to the hem of her skirt.
It was no coincidence that all over the West the miniskirt became a symbol of the confidence of that era, making its first appearance in 1963 on the catwalks of the fashion designer Mary Quant.
Still in the sixties in Italy, another object that would grace the pages of the history books and turn the lives of a generation upside down also made its appearance: the Olivetti Programma 101, the first rudimentary personal computer designed by the Italian engineer Pier Giorgio Perotto (it was also nicknamed Perottina after him) which was put on the market in 1965. This object, which merged vanguard technology and an extremely innovative design for the times (the merit of the young architect Mario Bellini), took its rightful place in the Museum of Modern Art of New York.
Alongside the P101, there was another example of Italian excellence which took pride of place in the permanent collection at the MoMa of New York. It was the "Living Space kitchen" created for Snaidero in 1968 by the great architect and designer Virgilio Forchiassin. A sensational and ingenious item in which the gas rings and the sink gave a whole new lease of life to the concept of kitchens: the various pieces were broken up into islands - a first-time concept which was at least thirty years ahead of its time - and which would come to be known as a "central block". The other functional parts were assigned to the wall space using innovative moving blocks which, hinged to the base units, opened and closed according to the function they were designed for.
And so it was that new horizons opened up in terms of kitchen space and family relations - in that chunk of history (it was in '68) marked by profound social change which would forever change relations between the old and young generations.
And Snaidero is still on the road...
Snaidero's photographic archive
Wikimedia Commons archive
Wikimedia Commons archive Photo of Gianni Morandi and Bobby Solo at the Cantagiro Italian Summer festival: photographic archive www.corriere.it