You have to hand it to Italians. Over the course of its history, Italy has made its fair share of contributions to world civilisation: plumbing, roads, the fresco, underfloor heating, concrete, army medics and welfare. Oh, and the dominant Julian calendar. Sure, those may have been their Roman ancestors, but then there’s Sophia Loren, neo-realism, pizza and the ultimate toy, the Ferrari. Italy has also given us kitchens.
For anyone that cooks, an efficient kitchen is a must — no matter the size. Given its culinary history as well, it’s unsurprising Del Tongo, Arrex, Snaidero, Scavolini, Boffi, Aster Cucine, Pedini and scores of other elite kitchen designers all hail from Italy. And now coming to Hong Kong is Caldogno-based Arclinea. So what is it exactly that makes Italy such a hotbed of kitchen gear?
“I think there’s always been a tradition of fashion and furniture manufacturing. What makes our kitchens so successful is the aesthetics that we add to the product,” theorises Federico Fortuna, business development export manager for Arclinea. “Normally kitchens are hidden in a separate room where a maid works alone in a tight space. But if you look at the old villas around us or in Veneto, the kitchen is very big space where everyone has lunch and so on. We carry this on today.”
Founded by Silvio Fortuna in the tiny town about midway between Verona and Padua, Arclinea (still a family business) has been creating social, functional and jaw-droppingly swanky kitchens since 1925. Arclinea has plans to open a retail shop in Hong Kong soon, but currently anyone that wants to browse its kitchens needs to check them out in the brand’s distributor office, Essere. A showroom is expected to open in Macau in the fall. The designs are unmistakably Italian and their accessibility makes them a perfect fit for yoo, which is installing Arclinea kitchens in its new yoo Residences in Causeway Bay.
If you like the home you’re in but are considering a kitchen upgrade, Arclinea’s Italian-made cabinets and islands could be the solution (appliances are the owner’s choice). The stone and wood Lignum and Lapis series, the open concept Convivium (whose name says it all), the professional Italia line for hardcore cooks, the more rugged Artusi, with a focus on durable lacquers and laminates and the Spatia line, ideal for small spaces for its flexibility and multi-functionalism are among the options the brand offers. Each line can be complemented with chairs, stools, tables, benches and all manner of insert, drawer and shelving with a variety of finishes.
“We can customise almost everything … It depends on the way the client wants to use the kitchen and their preferences,” says Fortuna. “If you want a professional, hygienic cooking space, take stainless steel. But if you’re someone who prefers touch, and uses materials more intimately maybe marble is better. If you want to minimise cleaning problems, use quartz.” And true, Arclinea may swing towards the high end of the pricing scale, but a standout kitchen increases the sales value of a home — and you don’t need to break the bank. “If you want it all gold, fine. That’s your choice,” notes Fortuna. “But it is possible to control the budget by carefully choosing accessories, limiting the number of units and finishes. You’re not obliged to fill the entire space with an island.” But it would be a really nice island.