The kitchen world reaping success (spurred on by technology)

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Arrital, collezione Ak_07, design Franco Driusso, photo courtesy Arrital

The past year has made it possible to mark important milestones, explain Ernestomeda, Arrital and Elica. Their key to success: ensuring the consumer gets the right mix of innovation and new developments

In uncertain times, invest in technology. That appears to be the message from the kitchen world in recent years, especially the more complex technologies. Alberto Scavolini, CEO of Ernestomeda, explains the extent to which this approach has generated good returns: “We closed 2021 with growth of around 25% compared with 2019. In 2022, we expect to achieve similar growth. The early months have come in on target, but given the particular historical conditions we are living through – emerging from a two-year pandemic, and now sadly witnessing a conflict on Europe’s doorstep – it is difficult to make predictions.” Nevertheless, the last two years have paved the way for a number of new developments, notably Ernestomeda Next, a 360° multi-user immersive virtual reality platform, allowing customers to enter the Ernestomeda world and get to know its stories and products up close, including previews that offer significant flexibility and maximum efficiency. “Despite the general uncertainty, we are optimistic. Last year, we invested around €5 million in production systems,” adds Scavolini. “We introduced double production shifts in April 2022 to cater to such strong and constantly growing demand.”


Ernestomeda, cucina Sign, design Giuseppe Bavuso, photo courtesy Ernestomeda

On the demand side, Scavolini says that future kitchen space will increasingly be shaped by end-consumer desires and lifestyles. The brand conducted a wide-ranging market survey in December into people’s ideal kitchen space, specifically whether it should be closed or open to the living room: “The answers revealed a balanced split, with younger respondents having a slight preference for spaces open to the living room.” The new Sign model, which the company is unveiling at this year’s Salone del Mobile, was created to cater to this evolution in kitchen design. Created by Giuseppe Bavuso, the company has made significant investments in this project, coming up with a product that, rather than being a niche item, offers a particularly wide range of innovations, solutions and finishes: “Sign heralds the start of a new conception of open space, a revolutionary new way of thinking and organizing the kitchen, opening up to other domestic environments and becoming a veritable living room extension.”

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Arrital, collezione Ak_07, design Franco Driusso, photo courtesy Arrital

Check out the previews of the products that will be unveiled at the Salone del Mobile.Milano 2022

Brand general manager Christian Dal Bo tells us about the new Arrital products the company is unveiling at the upcoming Salone, which are also oriented to recent market demand. “They include a new kitchen system offering high performance design and technology, expressing a new concept of domestic architecture.” Arrital also had a good set of results last year: “We closed 2021 with turnover in excess of €64 million, 34% from foreign markets. This corresponds to significant growth compared with the pandemic in 2020, when we were pegged back to around €48 million, and betters our 2019 pre-Covid performance, when the annual total was in the region of €50 million. Part of the We.Do Holding group since 2019, over the years the company has evolved by offering new design and style ideas, rising to the challenge of a changing market through major investments in technology, human resources, modernizing production facilities, and product industrialization.” These excellent results including winning the Good Design® Award 2021, a prestigious accolade from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, given this year to the Ak_07 kitchen system designed by architect Franco Driusso, which won in the Product Design Office and Residential Furniture category. Once again, the company performed well despite the challenging backdrop: “Our market has expanded in volume terms, maintaining constant growth in the medium-high segment and, thanks to penetration and development strategies in our various territories, acquiring major new target customers.”

The brand recently issued a strategic international development plan for new geographical areas, and is also boosting its penetration on the French and Spanish markets, where the brand and distribution are already strong and well-organized. “In 2022, we will be rolling out major new developments to marketing and communication (an evolutionary end user-directed brand image strategy), and product innovation.”


Elica, Nikola Tesla Unplugged, photo courtesy Elica

Giulio Cocci, CEO of Elica, is also satisfied with 2021. “We had a record year for turnover, registering revenues of €541.3 million (up 19.6%), and higher operating margins, providing further proof of our growth plan’s effectiveness.” Cocci explains that the main growth areas were expanding the cooking segment in Europe and America, alongside developing the engine division to effect an ecological transition by adopting hydrogen systems to minimize environmental impact. “The hike in profitability is down to three key projects: the Decomplexity project to reduce product complexity; a portfolio project that has enabled us to downsize structural costs to the business’s actual needs; and a scheme to reallocate industrial production between Italy and Poland, maintaining leadership and higher competitive capacity than our competitors by transforming our Italian plant into our top-of-the-range centrepiece.”

Elica’s success in 2021 may at least partially be ascribed to technology, especially in hoods: “Air treatment is one of the clearest trends in the sector, uppermost in people’s minds since the pandemic and a renewed focus on sanitation,” he explains. “Generally speaking, our priority is investment in innovation: we allocate around 4% of our turnover to investments.” In addition to its design focus, Cocci says the brand invests in three main areas: improving object functionality (i.e., the Internet of Things); comfort and space rationalization; and sustainability, notably energy savings, introducing hydrogen engines, and research into metamaterials. “By the end of 2022, we expect to be using recycled plastics in product-making. Sustainability is going to be a key theme over the coming years, and we are keen to develop the engine division as a strategic business area.” For Elica, as well as multi-functionality, design and integration, wellbeing and protecting the domestic environment are vital to its future kitchens: “The product categories where we’ll see the greatest growth revolve around these needs, which Elica serves in a number of different ways: our NikolaTesla suction hobs, in particular the Fit model, which is designed to showcase excellence even in compact environments, alongside our range of ceiling hoods, including Illusion which is customizable using plasterboard finishes. At the Salone, we’ll be highlighting our line of built-in hoods designed for wall unit installation that combine concealment with total linearity and high-level performance and energy efficiency.”