Experimentation, design, aptitude for investigating the unexplored. A journey into the universe of a company that has been able to understand and anticipate the evolution of vacuum systems. With an interview with Fabrizio Crisà, Chief Design Officer

Elica is a company that designs 'clean air'. Its kitchen extraction systems are known all over the world. A modern, avant-garde, international, global company (in addition to Italy, it has production sites in China, Mexico, Poland and is present in Russia, Germany, France and Spain), but strongly rooted in the Marche region of Fabriano and led since its foundation in 1970 by the same family.

Solutions in constant evolution

At Elica they study trajectories, directions, air flows. They believe that in order to get far, you need a path with continuous changes of direction that respond to variable needs, capable of providing solutions that are constantly changing. They love to investigate the unexplored, disrupting the rules of repetitiveness. They know how to renew themselves, break schemes and clichés, think transversally. Changing perspective and observing from different points of view. Always. They possess a vision of design that is a synthesis of several disciplines: art, technology, sociology, physics, chemistry.

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Technology and design

Allied to the culture of design, at Elica technology is 'tamed' through design, made human and pleasant, fascinating and appealing. Seeking in change ever new opportunities and challenges. All this led in 2018 to the awarding of the Compasso D'Oro ADI to NikolaTesla, a project as revolutionary as the scientist after whom it is named. And to compete in the 2024 edition with NikolaTesla Unplugged.

A great passion for art

Innovation, creativity and art are the founding values of corporate culture at Elica. Proof of this is the Fondazione Ermanno Casoli, which promotes collaborative activities between contemporary art and corporate dynamics, succeeding in achieving a close relationship between purely creative processes and industrial production processes. Here in Fabriano, the mix between art and innovation is important, it is vital.

The artist at the centre of the training process

E-Straordinario is the Elica project that brings contemporary art into the business world, placing the artist at the centre of the training process. Through a series of workshops, internationally renowned artists work on the creation of a permanent work of art in the company, with the active participation of workers and employees.

An attitude, an award

An attitude that can also be seen in the Premio Ermanno Casoli, an art commission entrusted by the foundation to artists who are open to sharing the creative process and an interest in social and political issues. After all, the secret at Elica is to always be able to look beyond and think that you can do better. Having so many forms of artistic expression in the company is always a source of stimulation and allows one to be open to others.

Designing innovation

Innovation has always been a distinguishing feature at Elica. More than 300 patents on technologies and about 600 on design are proof of the company's commitment to offering unprecedented solutions. With this in mind, the Elica Propulsion Laboratory (EPL) was created, a cutting-edge centre capable of certifying innovative products that meet regulations in terms of safety, energy saving and electromagnetic compatibility. The laboratory is also used by other leading Italian and international companies in the sectors of household appliances, electronics, refrigeration, domestic heating, electronic road signs, and soundproofing materials for buildings. Designed as an 'open laboratory', EPL makes its spaces available to young engineers and university innovators for their research projects.

We asked Fabrizio Crisà, Chief Design Officer Elica, to tell us about his vision of design, technology, vacuum systems, kitchen environments, innovation

How do you reconcile technology and design in the planning and production phases?

At Elica, design is not simply the 'dress that adorns the product', but a study and approach that reconsiders the object from an innovative perspective. Technology is used to bring design to life, enhancing functionality in a harmonious fusion of form and function. The difference lies in the approach to technology; for me, design becomes a tool that makes the product more attractive, a means of making technology accessible, transforming it into something familiar, like a wild animal that has been cleverly domesticated.

So, what do design and design culture mean to you?

Design is not just about 'telling' technology, but shaping the way it is communicated, creating a fascinating technological experience. Design goes beyond aesthetics, permeating the buying experience and interaction with the product. In an age where technology is crucial, design becomes essential to make it accessible. The synergic integration of this dualism proves to be essential to make innovation, NikolaTesla Unplugged, in this scenario, has marked a significant step forward for Elica.

Elica was one of the first companies to transform the hood into a design object: how did the idea come about, how did it develop and evolve? In short, tell us about the courage of this choice...

The process at Elica was rapid. We realised that we were producing an element among household appliances, almost to be hidden. However, by carefully choosing the air extraction system, the cooker hood transformed cooking habits, going from being a secondary element to a protagonist of household appliances. This courageous choice came from the realisation that a functional hood can radically change the way of living in the kitchen, offering an aesthetically pleasing and efficient product.

What is the company's vision of the kitchen environment today? How does the Elica style translate into an increasingly fluid kitchen space?

The kitchen is seen in different ways: some people want to hide appliances, others prefer to display design objects that represent them. Today's kitchens are increasingly open to living and are the space in the home that expresses our personality. In this context, Elica vacuum systems play a significant role in ensuring clean air and enhancing the style of the room. For me the goal is to create designs that last beyond trends, for example, transforming the hood into a chandelier (Interstellar, Shining, Seashell) or an integrated hob (the entire NikolaTesla line), highlighting a style that goes beyond the ephemeral.

When designing a cooker hood, what are the ideal must-haves?

Energy saving is essential, with quality products meeting A, A+, A++ classifications. Development and innovation aim at this, requiring intelligent ideas to maximise efficiency. Air quality and silence are priorities, with a balance between the two aspects. The perception of a silent fume hood is often preferred, but breathing clean air is just as essential.