The one the Italians love best, when the kitchen upstaged the living room

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Trapezio by Enrico Tonucci, 1982, photo courtesy Scavolini

The Scavolini slogan that made the kitchen the most important room in every family home, with the complicity of two famous blondes

In the 19th century the centerpiece of the bourgeois home was the living room, the space for socializing and entertaining guests. This centrality continued all through the first half of the 20th century. Remember Moravia’s words in Time of Indifference? “The usual talk, the usual things, and above all the usual light.” He was evoking the living room, the favored place for domestic intrigues, inevitable boredom and family breakdown.  So when did the kitchen take center stage? When did it take over the social function of the home?

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Dandy, Design Vuesse, 1986, photo courtesy Scavolini

The key factor was certainly the postwar boom. And cupid in this love affair was an advertising campaign with a claim that grew into what we can unashamedly call a catchphrase, with a first brand ambassador that it would be an understatement to call an icon. Scavolini. The kitchen the Italians love best. It was 1961 when the president Valter Scavolini and his brother Elvino founded the company, starting from a small business for the artisanal production of kitchens in the Pesaro area.

And it was 1984 when the brothers entered the history of communication by the front door.  Their campaign slogan had two key words: love, and Italianness. Nothing could be more a part of us. Healthy parochialism, warmth, passion, belonging and the family. Brilliant! And the object of desire? The kitchen, of course, but also the diva of the day, Raffaella Carrà. What a smart ploy! Combining them, by osmosis, amplifying the love, merging the furnishings with the platinum bob and making them one. You bought a kitchen, but you also took home a little of the nation’s sweetheart.

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Baltimora, Design Vuesse with Marco Pareschi, 1999, photo courtesy Scavolini

The idea of choosing her as the face of the business came to the company president the day he saw her on the cover of TV Sorrisi e Canzoni with Pope Wojtyla and Sandro Pertini, in a survey of the Italians’ favorite figures.

At that time the showgirl was emceeing the very popular program “Pronto Raffaella”, which made her an enduring success. With foresight, the two brothers  signed her, and the brand’s recognition factor surged, while it also began to expand on the international market.

In reality, the association between the brand and the diva lasted only three years, but her image endures in the Italians’ memories. They still recall her elegantly seated or leaning on kitchen furnishings, modern, colorful and modular.

Her bearing, radiance and reliability set off spaces and products. She was like one of the family, but aspirational. Wearing full skirts ready to swirl, cinched at the waist, pearl necklaces, blouses, sometimes trousers, always very elegant.

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Isola Della Melarosa by Agostino Bertani, 1975, photo courtesy Scavolini

She was no longer the Queen of the Hearth  of the 1950s. She had no husband or children. She was alone. Fully in charge of the situation, a bit confined of course, but essentially as if it was her choice.

In  the video campaigns, too, her presence conquered space and triggered a mechanism of identification in all the Raffa wannabes of the day.

In 1987 the baton passed to Lorella Cuccarini, who featured in commercials until 2004. Again a perfect,  iconic and enduring choice.  A partnership lasting 17 long years. The company traveled through the 90s and 2000s revolutionizing design but maintaining a sort of classical quality in its ambassador. Lorella Cuccarini was also a dancer and showgirl, another blonde, likewise all smiles and utterly reliable. And people loved her unconditionally.

And so to the present. Time has passed since the kitchen was a service space and kept hidden. Partly thanks to Scavolini and the way it communicated, it is now the stage for a society that is changing ever more quickly. Today Carlo Cracco is the ambassador, with whom the company also developed the project for the MIA kitchen by Carlo Cracco, the domestic interpretation of the professional kitchen.  A starred chef who presents the products with his distinctive authority.  

Yet somewhere we still hear the echoes of Raffaella Carrà and Lorella Cuccarini telling us they think is the kitchen that Italians love best, in their two unmistakable voices.

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Crystal, Design Vuesse, 2004, photo courtesy Scavolini

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

3 May 2022