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Steam-powered Style

We sat down with Product Designer of La Marzocco, Stefano Della Pierta, to better understand what it takes to envision and create a La Marzocco espresso machine

interview by Will HALBERT

Based at La Marzocco’s headquarters in Scarperia, Italy, it’s safe to say that Stefano plays a crucial role within the company’s R&D team. Trained by none other than the son of La Marzocco’s founder, Piero Bambi, Stefano has been given the knowledge and knowhow to continue the legacy of the world’s most renowned espresso machine. We sit down with the man himself to talk form, function, and the future of the coffee scene. EJ

What is the main role of design when it comes to creating a new machine? 
The external design has to be the last piece of the puzzle, and has to be as durable as all of the pieces inside. The design has to be timeless; a barista will use it every day and it has to adapt to the growing consumerism it may face through the years. This is why we always start with a classic shape, focusing on the details that feed the unique model.

What are the top priorities when designing a new machine? 
Every machine has to be a La Marzocco first. It has to be recognized before even looking at the logo. Secondly, every machine has to be reliable and easy to maintain. We are not only making a piece of art, but machines that have to aid the barista and technicians. Thirdly, every time we start thinking of a new aesthetic, we have to think about how it will reach our production and quality standards.

In terms of designing the mechanics of the machine, how does the process begin and when?
We always start from the functionality of the machine, because the aesthetics should never some at the compromise of the machine’s functionality. 

It’s not possible to create a shape that’s unrelated to the internal components of the machine, because the sight of the machine has to hint at what’s inside. It has to be the entry point to discover the new functions and innovations that lie within.

What makes a successful design, in your opinion?
For us, a successful design is the combination of all the aspects we mentioned in the previous point, it has to last long without looking dated or “out of fashion” and has to be the gateway to its internal features.

What ultimately makes a La Marzocco machine a La Marzocco machine. Is there a trademark that makes it instantly identifiable? 
I think that the use of stainless steel and classic La Marzocco shapes is the obvious answer. But you really get a feel for the machine once it’s installed and running. That is when you can truly feel the essence of La Marzocco.

With the world becoming more environmentally conscious, how are La Marzocco adapting? Are there any visual changes to the machines – much like electric cars looking visually different from traditional petrol-based cars?
We want to give the barista an espresso machine that they will treasure for a long time and following a trend won’t do that. We must also be environmentally conscious, respecting how our machine will perform consistently and bring value to the coffee bean by not wasting the work of the farmers, pickers, traders, and roasters.

La Marzocco is built on the Bambi lineage, but with Piero having stepped back who is the new guard when it comes to design? 
I’m working with Piero Bambi every day trying to learn from him. I’m really lucky to have the possibility to stay close to a maestro like him. Together, we design every new aesthetic.

Our friends at Ditto Coffee just received their custom Linea PB, and you have some pretty special custom machines at the factory, too. Why is the idea of customization important to you, and how do you make sure it doesn’t lose its La Marzocco identity? 
La Marzocco has offered customization since the very beginning. We’ve designed machines to fit a coffee shop counter’s particular shape, for instance. 

We’ve also designed bigger machines to services busier shops, such as the 4-group corner machine. These machines were hand made, working closely with customers to develop shape and functionality from as early as the 50s. We love custom jobs as we feel that it is part of our DNA. It also gives us a chance to learn from baristas to create better designs in the future.

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