2020, the year of the pandemic, ushered in momentous change. At a time in history when our world became confined to the four walls of our home, it is only right that we returned to appreciating life at a slower pace, started putting our ideas in order, tidying up our spaces and, last but not least, surrounding ourselves with beautiful things. But what is beauty? Is it a successful combination of shapes and colors, the perfect balance of proportions, the balance between aesthetics and functionality, or all these things put together? Undoubtedly, beauty is a channel for well-being, health and happiness. Finding beauty is not about following the rules of either Feng Shui or the Kon Mari method. All you need is a bit of all-Italian harmony.

Two historic Florentine companies, Bitossi Ceramiche and La Marzocco, are on a quest for beauty, having made aesthetics and design their raison d’être. In addition to their well-established expertise, they also have an education in beauty, which they received from the region in which they were born: Tuscany. It is a region of lyrical landscapes where the Etruscans and Romans have left their mark, be it precious funerary objects or the usual legacy of epic monuments. Its capital, Florence, boasts the names of Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Donatello and Giotto, and masterpieces of art and architecture that few other cities can match.

Bitossi Industrial Artistic Museum

Montelupo Fiorentino is a place with an ancient ceramic tradition. This history of quality craftsmanship is epitomized in the items produced by Bitossi Ceramiche. Over the years, members of the Bitossi family, documented in these parts since 1536, have been furnace workers, sculptors, painters and, above all, ceramists. In 1921, Guido Bitossi founded the Maioliche artistiche Guido Bitossi factory. The first products followed the traditional style, maintaining high levels of refinement and quality. Historically, collections included furnishing accessories where lamp bases were the main element, followed by smoking sets, cake stands, vases, frames and bowls. In the 1950s, the artistic direction was taken over by Aldo Londi. A man of great aesthetic and creative sensitivity, always in search of inspiration, attentive to changes and to the uniqueness of Made in Italy products, he guided the company towards the future. Bitossi’s stylistic evolution began. This successful renewal was also made possible through the collaboration with many designers, including Ettore Sottsass. The partnership between the architect and Bitossi lasted a long time: from 1955, Sottsass, together with Aldo Londi and master ceramists, started experimenting with materials, creating new ceramics, new lines and exclusive collections that are still in production today. Other well-known artists who have designed Bitossi ceramics include Arik Levi, Matteo Thun, Max Lamb, George J. Sowden, Marco Zanini, Fabio Novembre, Karim Rashid, Bethan Laura Wood, and Nathalie Du Pasquier. Just as ceramics have always contributed to the creation of beautiful architecture and refined settings, Bitossi ceramic products, stemming from tradition, passion, the skill of artists and industrialists and meticulous team work, are now important elements in home decor. Today, the brand – which is still managed by the same family – represents excellence in the ceramic industry. It invests in research and skillfully merges modernity and tradition by designing new shapes and re-proposing Aldo Londi’s iconic subjects. Bitossi’s extensive history and development has been recreated through artifacts and documents in the company archives while the collections of the Artistic Museum bear testament to the evolution of Italian style in terms of shape and color.

Accademia del caffè espresso La Marzocco

Giuseppe and Bruno Bambi founded La Marzocco, a company producing espresso coffee machines, in Florence in 1927. Inspired by the city’s glorious Renaissance past, but with an eye toward innovation, the company produced the first coffee machine with a horizontal boiler in 1939. This was followed by the introduction of a dual-boiler system with saturated brewing groups. Today, the company still expresses passion for tradition and the search for quality, even at home. As a result, in recent years it has developed and expanded its range of products, integrating it with the Home line, which includes small, professional espresso machines with a unique and contemporary design, that, in addition to being functional, are a stylish decorative element. It also produces a line of accessories dedicated to the “Home Barista”, i.e. to coffee lovers who are looking for the taste of a bar espresso at home.

La Marzocco, however, is not just a manufacturer. It is also involved in research, training and culture, with the objective of innovating and improving the coffee industry. It does this though the Accademia del Caffè Espresso (Espresso Coffee Academy), housed in the company’s former workshop, an avantgarde building that has become a platform for training, events and exhibitions. It is a center for cultural promotion and innovation where the exchange of ideas and points of view is encouraged. Through the Academy, La Marzocco also promotes the idea of coffee as a resource for those who consume it, process it and grow it. It is an advocate for tackling changes in the economy and climate by reducing physical and cultural distances, uniting coffee lovers under a message of sustainability.

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