IFI was set up in Pesaro as a small artisan firm specialising in the production of bar furnishings and took off in the following years thanks to the intervention of Umberto Cardinali, who gave the firm an industrial focus and an ethical approach that still underlies its operations. Umberto Cardinali was Chairman until the age of 100 (2009).
IFI began its history of design and innovation by launching the first industrial furnishing on the market. It was immediately a historic turning point. For the first time, furnishings involved defined modules, designed by a designer, and the product was presented in a catalogue; it was therefore possible to organise a warehouse with the necessary components, guarantee fast delivery times, certify quality and always be sure of costs. From that point onwards, IFI continued to open new avenues and to dictate new benchmark standards for the whole public bar furnishings sector.
Thanks to a series of modules of different sizes within a specific range, furnishings could now be adapted to the size of the premises, making it possible to create more customised solutions. A new profession was created, of licensee of industrial furnishings, and the first network of authorised retailers of bar furnishings was set up in the country.
At the end of the 80s, industrial designer Makio Hasuike and IFI’s Research and Development department designed Factotum, the system at the basis of all IFI furnishings, and still the benchmark technology used by the sector. For the first time, the load-bearing structure of the modules was made of steel rather than wood and painted with epoxy powders fixed at a temperature of 300° against perforation corrosion to guarantee solidity and a long lifetime. The “integral modular” nature of the system made it possible to arrange the furnishings in an even more functional and versatile way.
Anticipating the needs of its public, IFI developed the Platinum IFI Concept together with Makio Hasuike as a new way of interpreting public bars which places at the heart of each experience hospitality, transparency, hygiene, respect for people and the environment. Platinum IFI Concept rewrote the rules of hospitality breaking down the barriers between host and guest. Everything is visible and everything is transparent to create openings for sociability and direct relationships. In 2002 the project was recognised by the Ministry for Production Activities as a Highly Innovative Project for the business categories to which it belongs. Part of the Platinum project took the name Tonda, the first round and rotating display case in history.
Tonda, the first round and rotating display case in history, marked a turning point for the world of artisan gelato. Designed by Makio Hasuike in conjunction with IFI’s research and development department as part of the Platinum IFI Concept project, Tonda preserves flavours with the perfection of the pozzetti and displays them with the appeal of modern display cases. It is hard to describe Tonda, its strengths, its awards and the artistic culture it carries with it; for this, please visit the Tonda page.
For Tonda, IFI developed a technology to calculate the actual time during which there is an exchange of temperature in the display case between the gelato and the external atmosphere, in order to activate defrosts only when the display case has actually been open for six hours, rather than the fixed frequency of every six hours of usual gelato display cases. Reducing the number of defrosts means reducing the number of thermal shocks suffered by the gelato (with a significant improvement in its organoleptic properties), as well as reducing electricity consumption. In addition, when needed, at the end of the day, the gelato-maker can leave the gelato in the display case rather than transferring the pans into chiller cabinets. This system, called RDF (Reduced Defrosting Frequency), was then applied to the linear display cases of the IFI range, with the invention of the HCS system (Hi-performance Closure System).
Exploiting over 40 years of experience in ventilated refrigeration, IFI managed to improve the best tool for preserving artisan gelato, the pozzetto counter, respecting this great symbol of tradition. Compared with traditional and static pozzetti using glycol, pozzetti with ventilated refrigeration offer a series of benefits in terms of more even distribution of the cold, ease of using the spatula (including in the spare tubs, which are immediately ready for use), and speed in reaching the operating temperature (30-40 minutes, compared to 10 hours using glycol), meaning that the tanks can be cleaned more frequently. See all the benefits of pozzetti with ventilated refrigeration.
Tonda, the first round and rotating display case in history, was selected in the ADI Design Index, ADI’s annual publication used to pre-select products to be awarded, every three years, the Compasso d’Oro.
On 27 December 2007, in Rome, Umberto Cardinali received the title of “Knight in the Order of Merit of Italy” from the President of the Republic.
On 26 June 2008 in Turin (designated as the first World Design Capital for 2008), at the Court of Honour in the Venaria Reale Palace, Ifi entered the design élite with the Tonda and was awarded with the Compasso d'Oro Special Mention. Thanks to the innovative gelato display case, the Tavullia-based comapny gained access to the Historic Collection of this famous design prize, recognized by the Government as a Bene d'Interesse Nazionale (Asset of Nation Interest).
The art of design and the art of gelato-making come together in Affresco, a designer gelato parlour concept, an elegant space in the form of a palette, created by designer Beppe Riboli in conjunction with students from NABA (New Fine Arts Academy in Milan). Affresco is a unique mixture of Italian art, starting from the name that refers to the painting technique (fresco), a concept where design, culture of communication, technology, food science and the art of Italian master gelato-makers fuse together in perfect harmony. See the Affresco page.
The Chocolat praline-pastry display case was selected in the ADI Design Index 2010. Chocolat was designed by architect Raffaella Morosini and represents a treasure chest of glass and light designed for master chocolatiers and pastry chefs who wish to highlight their masterpieces by displaying them like real jewellery.
After ventilated refrigeration, IFI invented the anti-rotation system for tubs. This simple system, which nobody had thought of before, stops the tubs rotating when gelato is served, making it as easy and as ergonomic as possible for the gelato-maker to use the spatula instead of using traditional “artisan” methods such as a piece of paper or wood to keep them from rotating.
So that display cases could also benefit from the advantages of the RDF system (exclusive IFI technology used to activate defrosts based on the time in which there are temperature exchanges between the gelato and the external atmosphere), IFI’s R&D department and designer Giampaolo Allocco designed the HCS system (Hi-performance Closure System), a rear closure system to isolate the gelato from the atmosphere outside the display case.
In 2009, the Tonda gelato display case was selected to be part of the Farnesina Design Collection, set up by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to promote our country’s artistic production in the design sector. As well as being permanently on display in the Sala dei Mappamondi of the Palazzo della Farnesina in Rome, Tonda travelled around various world capitals, becoming an ambassador of successful Italian design at international events such as:
• 2009, Rome: Presentation of the Farnesina Design Collection (Ministry for Foreign Affairs)
• 2010, Vancouver: 2010 Winter Olympics (Italy House)
• 2010, Pretoria: Football World Cup Finals (Azzurri House)
• 2010, Istanbul: Istanbul European Capital of Culture 2010 (University of Kadir Has)
• 2011, Tel Aviv: Holon Museum and Italian Embassy
• 2011, Rome: Palazzo della Farnesina and its Collections (Ara Pacis Museum)
• 2012, Tunis: Zoubeir Turki National Live Art Centre
• 2012, Rabat: National School of Architecture
• 2012, Helsinki World Design Capital 2012 (Musiikkitalo)
• 2012, Algiers: Arts and Culture Centre of the Rais Palace
• 2012, London: 2012 Olympics (Italy House - The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre)
• 2012, Ljubljana: Slovenian Ethnographic Museum
• 2012, London: Italian Cultural Institute
The Bellevue display table with Panorama technology, designed by Marc Sadler in conjunction with IFI’s R&D department, represents a brand new synthesis of two fundamental characteristics of artisan gelato-making that have always been the antithesis of each other: perfect preservation of the gelato in pozzetto counters and visibility of the flavours in display cases. What used to seem an undertaking that could be achieved only at the expense of clear compromises was successfully completed by the Tavullia company.
Bellevue with Panorama technology was selected in the ADI Design Index 2013, ADI’s annual publication which is used for pre-selecting products to be awarded, every three years, the Compasso d’Oro.
On the occasion of IFI S.p.A’s fiftieth anniversary, the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano conferred his medaglia di rappresentanza (medal of recognition) on the company.
Having been selected in the 2013 ADI Design Index, on 28 May 2014 Bellevue with Panorama technology was a winner at the 23rd ADI (Associazione per il Disegno Industriale - Industrial Design Association) Compasso d’Oro award. For the first time, the most authoritative institution in the design world gave its top award (awarded every three years since 1953) to an artisan gelato display case. IFI’s name thus reached the highest rank of the design hall of fame, together with the names of designers and companies that have made the history of industrial design and to which falls the task of renewing the prestige of Italian know-how in the world.
The European Day of Artisan Gelato, held each 24 March, was inaugurated in July 2012 by the European Parliament on the initiative of Artglace (Confederation of European artisan gelato associations) and MIG (International Artisan Gelato Fair at Longarone) with the aim of supporting artisan gelato and promoting its quality, genuineness and nutritional values. This initiative was also supported strongly by IFI which took an active part, with the most innovative display cases in its range, in the events promoted during 2010-2012 in Strasbourg and Brussels.