Exhibitions Passione Italiana

L'arte dell'espresso

21 April t/m 7 October 2018 view details »
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Symbol of a ritual as fast as intense, to perform most of the time standing, espresso coffee is soon identified with a specific lifestyle, made of places and atmospheres, as much as of a real Italian way to design tools and accessories. Cups and coffeepots, professional machines and cafes have defined a specific design niche that, in the balance between tradition and innovation, has always been crossed by the aesthetics and usage habits that distinguish every age.

The exhibition intends to recount, along its historiographical path, how espresso never ceases to renew its bond with its audience, confirming itself as an Italian lifestyle recognised all over the world.

Some higlights:


Victoria Arduino

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the monumental Victoria Arduino, patented in 1910 by Pier Teserio Arduino, entered the Turin cafes. Thanks to the iconic shape and its decorative copper and brass inserts, it would be transformed in the first global success in the history of espresso coffee for bars.

Moka van Bialetti


A few years later, the iconic "Moka" in aluminium with an octagonal base was created by Bialetti. It would mark the entrance of the coffee maker in every home. 


After the 40s, new professional machines designed by the great masters of Italian design, revive the culture of coffee. Numerous new creations would be rightly included in the annals of design and custom:

  • "la Cornuta", designed by Gio Ponti in 1948 and characterised by a chrome, cylindrical body from which stand out three groups of imposing dispensers;
  • the "Concorso" aka "Diamante" designed by Bruno Munari and Enzo Mari in 1956, the first machine with a geometric body that allows the assembly of modules of different lengths and different colour combinations;
  • and finally the E61 patented by Faema, which guarantees a continuous supply thanks to the use of an oleodynamic pump.

Due to their performances, these machines would establish themselves as real protagonists of every bar’s life, definitively affirming the ristretto as the Italian way to enjoy coffee.

Passione Italiana


The following decades, those of the '70s,' 80s and '90s, would open a new page in the culture of design related to the world of coffee, giving rise to a convergence between architectural styles and the aesthetics of coffee makers and services.

The leader of this research is an Italian company, Alessi, that has sensed the unexpressed emotional potential that lies behind coffee accessories and that looks at collaborations with the greatest Italian and foreign designers of the time - Ettore Sottsass, Richard Sapper, Aldo Rossi - as a possibility to reconsider, with amazement, the shape of the machines and, together with these, of the domestic landscape.

Reinterpreting postmodern culture on a small scale, coffee-makers take the form of houses, factories and buildings: as a result, the famous "9090" by Richard Sapper, with a truncated conical shape, and the equally famous "Conica" and "Cupola" by Aldo Rossi, inspired by the geometries of monuments, are created.

In parallel, the Italian collective Memphis would update the imagery of coffee services with new decorative elements made of patterns and stylised shapes.

After 2000

Mirage - Kees van der WestenIn the last twenty years, the coffee culture seems to have abandoned the focus on aesthetic experimentation, looking at technology as a solution to be able to produce a real bar espresso even at home.

The production of the first compact machines, characterised by the presence of electronic components and touchscreens, allows consumers to make a "tailor-made" coffee, to be varied in length or in taste thanks to the use of the differently mixed capsules.

A more sophisticated consumption, which only amplifies the collective affection for espresso, becoming a source of inspiration for international designers such as the Dutch Kees van der Westen or the Israeli Shmuel Linski with the concrete prototype for Lavazza.



Visit Passione Italiana between 21 april untill 28 oktober 2018. Get your ticket at the reception or (with a discount) online. A tickets grants you acces to all exhibitions at Cube design museum, including Heaven or Hell? (until 2 september), Showroom Limburg (until 3th of June 2018), the permament exhibition What is Design?, the Cube Labs and other planned exhibitions. 


Passione Italiana


  • Concept:
    Hans Gubbels & Gène Bertrand (Cube design museum)
  • Curator:
    Elisabetta Pisu (IMF Foundation)
  • Graphic design:
    Marcel Sloots (Volle-Kracht)
    Nadine Vroomen (Cube design museum)
  • Exhibition design
    Marcel Sloots (Volle-Kracht)
    Mirjam Houben
  • Realisation
    Marcel Sloots (Volle-Kracht)
    Raymond Jacobs & Madeleine van Dale (Cube design museum)
  • Text
    Giulia Zappa (IMF Foundation)
    Leonie Kohl & Noud de Greef (Cube design museum)
  • Translation
    DUO vertalingen
  • Photography
    Ruud Balk
    Noud de Greef (Cube design museum)
  • Loans
    Vilja Bemelen (Cube design museum)

We wish to thank:

Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, Aldo Rossi, Alessi, Andreas Seegatz-Stars Milano, Angeletti Ruzza, Arvid Häusser, Bialetti, Bugatti, Bruno Munari and Enzo Mari, Carlton, Carlo Colombo, Daniel Debiasi and Federico Sandri, Dominique Perrault, Elektra, Ettore Sottsass and Aldo Cibic, Faema, Gaggia, Gaetano Pesce, Gio Ponti, Giorgetto Giugiaro, Giulio Iacchetti, Guzzini, illycaffè, Jean Nouvel, Joseph Hoffmann, Julian Lechner, Kartell, Kees van der Westen, La Cimbali, La Pavoni, Lavazza, Luca Trazzi, Marcello Morandini, Marco Zanuso, Massimiliano Fuksas and Doriana Mandrelli, Matteo Thun, Michele De Lucchi, Officina Rancilio, Paola C., Patricia Urquiola, Patrick Hunt, Piero Lissoni, Rami Tareef, Richard Sapper, Riccardo Dalisi, Salins Studio, Shmuel Linski, Stelton, Toyo Ito, Tom Dixon, Universal, Valerio Cometti + V12 Design, Viceversa, Victoria Arduino, Yaniv Berg, Wacaco Nanopresso. 

Made possible with help from: 

MUMAC - Coffee Machine Museum by Gruppo Cimbali, the Alessi Museum and private collections of Enrico Maltoni, Antonello, Franco Balzarotti, Gustav Merenyi and Alessio Sarri.



Passione Italiana

  • 21 April t/m 7 October 2018

    Open on Mondays during school holidays (Region South)