A Journey into Italian Design Excellence: The Officine Gullo Company Visit by Global MBA

20 March 2024

Exploring Italian design excellence through a Company Visit at Officine Gullo in Florence is a unique experience that blends high-level gastronomy and culture.

We enjoyed hearing the impressions of two Global MBA participants, Diego Hernandez Guerra and Thomas Roulin, to understand how this experience impacted their education at Bologna Business School and what lessons it could offer them regarding business management, innovation, and brand positioning. The visit took place at the company’s three units: Officine Gullo House, Design Center, and Production Center.

The visit to Officine Gullo House represents a unique experience that combines haute cuisine and culture. In your opinion, how does this experience influence customers’ perception of the brand, and which elements of the experience contribute most to solidifying Officine Gullo’s image as a symbol of Made in Italy excellence?

The entire experience was incredible. The showroom has a direct exit to the Church of Ognissanti. Matteo Gullo welcomed us with a brief introduction to the company, followed by a guided tour by Francesco Gori, the brand’s Art Director, to the Church, which was magnificent. Francesco showed us Franciscan relics and Botticelli masterpieces and explained how they relate to the Vespucci family, the Medici, and Italian history. It was incredible to find ourselves in the midst of something greater than ourselves, belonging to all humanity. As Francesco said, “It’s an experience that is priceless.” Indeed, Francesco told us that the words of a famous customer like Tommy Hilfiger were, “This experience is invaluable.” After the guided tour, customers typically enjoy a dinner in the showroom prepared in one of the kitchens for sale. Through this experience, customers understand the importance of Florence in art history, the direct relationship with kitchens designed by Officine Gullo, taste the incredible dishes they can cook thanks to these products, and understand the value of what they are about to purchase.

The visit to the Officine Gullo Design Center offers a total immersion in the heart of the design of these luxury kitchens. How do you evaluate the company’s approach to combining aesthetics and functionality in the design of its products, and which design elements do you think contribute most to the ergonomics and performance of the kitchens?

Officine Gullo promotes professional kitchens for domestic use. The design team, together with engineers, designs each kitchen according to the specific needs of the customer. The combination of core materials – stainless steel, aluminum, and bronze – with a classic Florentine design adapts to this tailor-made process that guarantees a beautiful and functional kitchen. As Matteo Gullo told us, “We are a company that says yes: what our customers ask for, we provide.” These high-quality Italian materials contribute significantly to the performance of the kitchens. Where other manufacturers use imported stainless steel often 0.5 mm thick, Officine Gullo uses 2 mm thick Italian stainless steel, resulting in a kitchen that will work for a lifetime.

Officine Gullo excels in balancing technological innovation and Florentine craftsmanship. During your visit to the Gullo Production Center, which process or technology impressed you the most in terms of innovation while maintaining Florentine artisan traditions?

The growing demand is driving Officine Gullo to add high-tech machines to increase the efficiency of the production process. We visited the production plant and learned how the team of engineers is developing a new unit to integrate these machines with the artisan process that characterizes the brand. Meanwhile, artisans are undergoing ad hoc training to learn how to use those machines, which will help them maintain the basic Florentine design with the advantages of technology.

Considering the visits to the three units of Officine Gullo, what are the lessons you think can be drawn on the excellence of Made in Italy represented by the brand in terms of business management, innovation, and brand positioning that could be applied in other contexts or sectors? In general, how important is this type of Company Visit in the context of the Global MBA at BBS?

Regarding brand positioning, Officine Gullo mainly relies on word of mouth: their product is so unique that it is not strange to know that Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham have an Officine Gullo kitchen. When we talk about customization, quality, and uniqueness, we also talk about details like hardware elements (screws, nuts, fasteners), which the company produces internally. As an engineer, I couldn’t understand this decision, but after listening to Matteo, I understood the high perceived value of their customers in a detail like this and how they convey it to their friends. I can’t think of a better example of Italian excellence: screws produced in-house with Italian stainless steel. 

Their business model adds value to Italian excellence; they are mainly a B2C (Business to Customer) company with a vertical approach. The layout of their Design Center is set around this B2C model, where the sales team sits opposite the marketing team, which is next to the design team: this allows them to have open and direct communication to address customer desires and needs. Alongside them, the engineering department helps the design team adapt the project to technical requirements and translate it into a work plan that is delivered to artisans. All this is orchestrated by the project manager of each kitchen. Innovation is currently under development with the implementation of the new factory, which, as mentioned before, combines the best of high-tech machines with Florentine craftsmanship.

For us, students of the Global MBA at BBS, it was really important to see and get to know up close the 3 areas of Officine Gullo: it’s an experience that helps us imagine how the skills we are acquiring in the classroom can be applied in the real world. Additionally, this helps us identify possible opportunities. Finally, through our journey from the showroom to the new factory, passing through the Design Center, we had the opportunity to enjoy a detailed look at the entire process of building different dream kitchens, made with the legacy of Florentine history, and we could understand how a local Italian company can have a global presence.


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