Nicola Girotti, head of product design at Pininfarina, talks about how they reimagined the historic cabin that has been an integral part of the Italian urban landscape since 1962

The passport photo booth, installed for the first time in 1962 in the Galleria Alberto Sordi in Rome, gets a new look and becomes more inclusive, technological, ergonomic and intuitive.

The restyling was signed by Pininfarina, which presented yesterday 9 November at the Cambiano headquarters, in the province of Turin, Icona, the new passport photo booth which breaks down every architectural barrier, adapts to the user's build and has an interface easier (and fun) to use, even for non-digital natives.

Nicola Girotti, head of product design at Pininfarina, tells us about it.

How was the project born?

“The passport photo booth has been an integral part of the Italian urban landscape for sixty-one years, a bit like the telephone booth. We liked this challenge of redesigning an element present in the collective imagination and linked to the past.

With Icona we wanted to completely rethink the product, working both on the object and on the interface, to transform its geometric, square and not very friendly shape into an inviting, accessible and inclusive place, where you can do a simple, immediate and also fun experience”.

Where will the first Icona passport photo booths be installed? And what will happen to the old cabins?

“Icona will be installed indoor in the shopping centers of Italy. From the beginning of 2024, of the 150 new passport photo booths produced by the Dedem group every year for interiors, more than half will be the new Pininfarina Icona model.

From the cabins that Dedem withdraws from the market all the materials that are still valid are recovered for the refurbishment of the active cabin fleet, what is no longer reusable is recycled. More than 70 percent of the plastic parts of the new Icona cabin are made of recycled material”.

How did you rethink the historic cabin?

“We worked both on the physical development of the object and on the interface. We have eliminated every architectural barrier: the new Icona cabin is open on two sides, without a platform and with a retractable seat strong> to allow even those in wheelchairs to enter easily.

A technological and ergonomic cabin, with the camera that automatically raises and lowers based on the height of the person using it.

No longer a closed and claustrophobic box, but an inviting, airy place, with movable curtains that only descend during the shot and an internal front mirror that multiplies the sensation of spatiality.

We have redesigned the entire interface flow, to make it more intuitive and interactive.

There are no longer keys, but a touch screen, with large controls to be easily used even by a non-digital native audience, with very clear templates, simple animations and few steps.

We worked on two flows, distinguishing them graphically with different colored highlights: the first for classic photos for identity cards, passports or driving licences, the second instead for photos 'fun', passport photos with personalized backgrounds, designed especially for young people”.

When was the first passport photo booth born, and how did it evolve?

"The very first examples of passport photo booths were presented at theUniversal Exhibition in Paris in 1890. In Italy, the first booth was introduced in Rome, in the Alberto Sordi Gallery, in 1962 from Dedem, a brand founded in the capital, in the same year, by Dan David, a visionary entrepreneur of Jewish-Romanian origins in love with Italy.

The company today has 530 employees, manages 3600 machines distributed throughout Italy, for over 10 million passport photos printed every year.

Over the decades we moved from analogue to digital, from black and white to colour, from electromechanical printing systems, with the use of traditional photographic chemistry, to the very fast thermal sublimation printing of the early nineties, up to the contemporary machine ' face', electronic and with a software interface.The cabin today is also a point where you can print the photos you have on tablets and mobile phones”.

What was your approach to the cabin design?

“The cabin is a static object, but we approached it with our unmistakable design characterized by dynamic lines, soft and fluid rays, alternating full and empty spaces. .

An aesthetic that is never an end in itself, designed to accompany the user in a new and at the same time more familiar and pleasant cabin".

Tim renews telephone booths with digital stations, you present the new passport photo booths. Cities are changing their face.

“The design invites people to interact, attracts with its renewed formal language. Like Tim's project, Icona also has a completely digital interface and a use flow similar to that of smartphones, to bring an object from the past closer to the new generations, and at the same time to offer a "a simple and quick experience for those who are no longer very young, at least in terms of age."