A Shrine for Espresso

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On the outskirts of Milan, the MuMAC museum by architects Paolo Balzanelli and Valerio Cometti celebrates a century of coffee-machine manufacturing for java giant Gruppo Cimbali.

Espresso cognoscenti rejoice! To celebrate its centenary, the company – which manufactures the popular LaCimbali and Faema machines – charged Balzanelli of Arkispazio and Cometti of V12 Design with transforming a warehouse into the MUMAC, or Museum della Macchina per Caffé, to host exhibition and events devoted entirely to coffee culture.

Inspired by the aromatic flow of coffee, the swooping two-storey building is wrapped in sinewy slats made of an aluminum composite by Metalcop. The skin is most effective at night, when the backlit facade creates a dramatic display of light. Beyond the front of the museum is a garden featuring a modest planting of nine trees framed by a latte-coloured wall. The 10 spaces between the trees represent ten decades of Cimbali’s existence.

Inside, the 1,800-square-metre museum is divided into six historical periods complete with themed art and fixtures from the eras. To depict Italy’s fascist period, a strict gridded space is furnished with marble plinths for displays, while the modernism of the ’60s sees a groovy mirrored space that allows vistors to see all the elements of the machines. (The spaces are meant to evoke the context in which the products were created, not to endorse any political agenda.)  Meanwhile, the area dedicated to current works features coated resin displays and a striking installation of the new LaCimbali M100 coffee machine that looks as though it has exploded.

The museum wouldn’t be complete without an espresso bar, located right at the entrance.

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