The Milan showroom of Signature Kitchen Suite, designed by the duo Calvi & Brambilla, with its 15 windows covering a total of 1100 square metres on three levels, is a true temple dedicated to lovers of food, design and innovation. The space, which recently celebrated its first anniversary, also houses a Food Academy led by chef Andrea Vigna, which offers a busy calendar of cooking lessons, wine classes, special appointments for food lovers and much more. We talked about this and much more with Manuela Ricci, marketing manager of Signature Kitchen Suite.
1. What are the activities in progress and programmed for 2021?
After the official launch of Signature Kitchen Suite in Italy and Europe in 2020, including the opening of our first European showroom, on Piazza Cavour in Milan, 2021 will be a crucial year for expansion of awareness of the brand, across our audiences of reference, B2B and B2C, thanks to digital and physical activities whose leitmotif will be the three pillars of our unique identity: True to Food, design and smart. This translates, for example, into the creation of new, original content, involving experts and the ‘friends’ of Signature Kitchen Suite, called upon to narrate the world of design, quality cuisine, nutrition and innovation, together with us. We will soon be launching web series by Signature Kitchen Suite that will begin with a digital existence on our channels (website and social media), but will also lead to corresponding developments in the physical realm.
Our showroom in Milan has been created as a place of experience, a hub for lovers of cooking, food, design and technology. Over the next month, our True to Food classes will be activated, open to the public, with our Food Academy as their central location: cooking courses, wine experiences, special theme lessons, food events, conducted in compliance with all the current standards to ensure maximum safety.The space will also host private events organized in collaboration with companies and brands that share our values: for us this is important as a way to expand our network and to position the showroom as an exclusive but also open, dynamic facility. Looking to September, we have confirmed our participation at Eurocucina; parallel to the presence at the fair, we are planning various activations in the showroom for the FuoriSalone, an appointment that is an absolute must for us!
2. In terms of architecture and the social dimension, the theme of housing has always been at the centre of debate. In this very unusual historical moment, full of rapid changes, what do you foresee as the most important developments?
The events of the last year, in my view, have accelerated a change that was already in progress, especially in certain sectors and urban realities. The need to work from home, in different contexts than the ‘classic’ office, and in more fluid time frames, has led to the transformation of spaces, which become increasingly hybrid, where the two spheres – private and professional – meet and in a certain sense have to (and can) coexist. Projects need to express this flexibility towards solutions that take new needs into account, therefore envisioning a renewed home, a place in which to spend more time, with rooms organized for different functions. The lockdown has to some extent ‘forced’ us to rethink the space of the kitchen, which has become the fulcrum of the private sphere of the home: we have spent more time cooking, preparing meals together, with the family. So this is a space that becomes central within the private domestic landscape, a space that is at the centre of convivial and shared experience, a bit like what used to happen in the living area. For us, it is very interesting to understand how this space is evolving today, and what will be the trends in the future. In this perspective, in a few weeks we will be launching a contest aimed at Italian architects and designers, who will be urged to think about precisely these themes.
3. You have described your new headquarters in Milan as a space for experience, where innovation and tradition coexist, as a tribute to the people who spend time there. How do the architecture and design of the showroom correspond to this philosophy? How will visitors be able to feel they are immersed in an experience of the relationship between the space and the products?
From the outset, the goal of Signature Kitchen Suite – opening a showroom in Milan, in a location that is very important for the world of design – was to create a completely different space, one that does not resemble a normal appliance store. The space had to first of all reflect our values, the True to Food philosophy, but at the same time it had to take a clear position with respect to the ambits of design and smart technology. Therefore we have developed unusual settings with the architects of the firm Calvi Brambilla, unexpected tableaux that convey the essence of the brand, not only in terms of display but also in terms of experience. This concept is already clearly perceptible in the entrance, where we have placed an accumulation wall, a large black monochrome partition that through a set of LED screens, built-in appliances and design objects typical of the kitchen environment sums up our philosophy, and the three key terms that guide us – food, design, smart – giving rise to a true artistic installation. Another example is the basement lobby, which I feel perfectly sums up the relationship between design and technology in the kitchen: a two-storey space with an LED maxi-screen of the latest generation, where the floors and walls are clad in stainless steel, envisioned by the architects as a huge pot, a symbol of True to Food and the passion for cooking.
4. We know you have a strong bond with Milan and the territory – how much impact did this have on the design of the space?
The bond with Milan is indeed very strong, and it is no coincidence that precisely this city, an international reference point for design, style, innovation and gastronomic culture, has been chosen as the place to open our European headquarters. Our space has a very central location, at Piazza Cavour, between the fashion quad and the Brera Design District: this is because the aim of the showroom is to be inside Milan, right at the centre of the life of the city. To underline this relationship with Milan, we have turned to one of the most important Milanese architecture firms, Calvi Brambilla, confidant that their design consulting would bring the right Milanese character to the interiors. The references are everywhere, even in the details: for example, the Italian terrazzo flooring and herringbone parquet are characteristics features of Milanese homes. To further emphasize our tribute to this capital of design, we have chosen to include furnishings by the most representative brands of Made in Italy in the showroom’s settings (Alias, AgapeCasa, Azucena, B&B Italia, Cassina, DePadova, Flos, Tacchini), creations of the great masters of Milanese design such as Castiglioni, Bellini, Pesce, Magistretti and Caccia Dominioni, just to name a few.
5. Everyone is aware of the fact that training is fundamental to tell a story and to convey a company’s philosophy. What is the value of education for your brand, and how is it emphasized in this space?
Education (and the sharing of experiences) is very important to us, and the showroom plays a fundamental role to spread the word about our products and the philosophy behind them. Having a space like ours has allowed us, ever since the opening, to move forward with intense one-to-one training activities for our dealers, architects and designers. Our brand is young, so it needs to be narrated, understood, absorbed, and it is a great advantage to be able to do this in a space like the showroom, which already transmits our vision, while at the same time inspiring and surprising those who enter. We have set an entire level aside for the Food Academy, where we organized courses and training programs that enable people to test our products, and to approach the True to Food concept at the same time. We also have a conference room and a meeting room, which are useful to host encounters and events, and can also be used on demand by architects and designers to meet with their clients.
Manuela Ricci is Marketing Manager Italy for Signature Kitchen Suite, the new brand of high-end built-in appliances part of the LG Electronics group. Manuela has 20 years of experience in the world of design and luxury segment kitchen appliances and has held important positions in communication, marketing and sales for leading companies in the sector. In 2019, she joined LG Electronics to follow the European implementation and development of the Signature Kitchen Suite brand. She is responsible for all marketing, communication, PR, social media and brand partnership activities, as well as the opening of the brand’s first European showroom in Milan, which will open on 22 October 2020.