The winning beauty of the La Pavoni “Concorso”

The La Pavoni “Concorso” was named after its victory at a 1956 coffee machine “beauty contest” (‘concorso’ in Italian) organized by some of that time’s most important architecture and design magazines: “Domus”, “Casabella”, and “Stile Industria”.

It was designed by Enzo Mari (1932) and Bruno Munari (1907-1998) for La Pavoni, a company founded in Milan in 1905.

In 1956, with the war already a distant memory, pop culture had started to get a foothold all over the world; even the coffeemaker industry strived to look ahead. In that world, the invention of the lever espresso machine and the “birth” of the ‘crema caffè’ (which we now call ‘espresso’) were a revolution – which however did not overshadow the importance of an object’s beauty. As Munari said, “Art should not be detached from life: beautiful things to look at and bad things to use…”.

This multicolor polyhedron, with modular faces that could be combined to create different chromatic and dimensional effects, was also nicknamed “The Diamond”, for obvious reasons.

And just as obvious is the reason why it won that beauty contest.

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December 16, 2013