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The Zanussi Company began as the small workshop of Antonio Zanussi in 1916. The 26-year-old son of a blacksmith in Pordenone in Northeastern Italy began the business by making home stoves and wood-burning ovens.
In 1933 Antonio Zanussi launched REX, the company's newest trademark at that time, to coincide with a huge media event of the day: the new record for a transatlantic crossing (Gibraltar to New York) with which the Italian liner “Rex” conquered the Blue Riband.
In 1946 Antonio Zanussi died and management of the family business passed to his sons Lino and Guido. Under the leadership of Lino, the company developed into a modern industrial concern and in 1951, with a workforce of over 300, the company began to diversify into gas and electric, and combined gas/electric ovens; and, with growing availability and popularity of gas cylinders, Zanussi brought out their first gas cooker – the Rex 401.
A factory was opened at Porcia in 1954 and a Study Centre was established to research and design new appliances.
1958 saw the production of the first Zanussi washing machines. The same strategy underlay the creation, a year later, of the company’s Design and research Centre.
In 1959 Zanussi launched the first “Supermarket” fridge with automatic defrosting and two compartments with separate temperature controls. At the end of the 1950s, Zanussi launched its “Tropic System” featuring a rounded style. Meanwhile the washing machines were already into the second generation, with front-loading, and five washing programmes, developed with an eye for the requirements of the important German market.
In 1960, Zanussi started producing TV sets. By 1962, Zanussi exported its products to 60 countries.
1964 saw the first appearance in Italy of a fridge with a –12C compartment that was suitable for the conservation of frozen food – the “Freezermarket” Rex. In the following year, Zanussi put its first dishwasher on the market.
The next decade was one of important purchases, with the Becchi, Castor, Zoppas and Triplex brands all joining the Zanussi Group, and of the start-up of manufacturing outside Italy. Zanussi advanced to leadership of the Italian household appliance industry with a 25% market share, and was among the foremost producers in Europe with 10% of sales throughout the continent.
The death of Lino Zanussi and his closest assistants in an airplane crash in Spain on 18 June 1968 marked a change of strategy. In the meantime the economic situation in Italy had changed and with plans for diversification undermined by the difficulties being experienced by Italian industry in general, Zanussi slipped towards financial crisis in the late ‘70s and the first half of the 1980s. The recovery process began in 1985 after Electrolux acquired the company in late 1984.
In 1985, Zanussi introduced the Jetsystem on their range of washing machines, which uses a regurgitation pump to pump the water in the drum onto the clothes via a jet hole in the door seal. This helps save water as the clothes are soaked with soapy water quicker. This can still be found on current Zanussi washing machines.
Zanussi manufacture products in Italy, Ukraine, Thailand and China.
History of industrial design Zanussi
In 1916 Antonio Zanussi founded his company, Officina Fumisteria Antonio Zanussi, based in Pordenone . In 1933 the brand-name REX was adopted.
In 1946 following the war and after the death of Antonio Zanussi, his son Lino succeeded him. In 1954 Lino Zanussi called in Gino Valle as a consultant for the design of products. Gino Valle who had already worked for years with the company for the design of factories and office buildings, then assumed the role as an external consultant for the design of their products. He was responsible for the design of the first washing machine produced at Zanussi, the model “Rex 201”, which in 1958 marked the debut of the company in the production of washing machines (licensed Westinghouse). Only two years later, Rex was born with the automatic “Model 260”, designed and manufactured by Zanussi. Then, the design of the compact kitchen unit “UNIREX” was designed in which one single large appliance had more functions, from the conservation to the cooking phase.
Gino Valle designed the first television products produced by Zanussi. In 1958 Valle called Gastone Zanello from his architect’s studio Avon, based in Udine.
Zanello was given the responsibility for industrial design until 1981 when he went to Seleco (Zanussi brand for electronics) as Head of Design. The company A.Zanussi Industries was one of the first to join the ADI (Italian Industrial Design Association) and by ADI in 1962 it received its first recognition in quality level: the kitchen, 700 series was awarded the Compasso d’Oro in 1962.
Not long after, in 1967, came the second Compasso d’Oro, with the P5 compact washing machine, an appliance that remained in production for almost twenty years.
In 1976 the internal industrial design studio was flanked by the contribution of the Studio Andries Van Onck. The company Zanussi was suffering from an overcrowding of brands, due to its subsequent acquisitions, and in fact, during the Sixties and Seventies, the company absorbed important industries( Becchi, Stice, Castor, Zoppas, Triplex) and founded the Zanussi Group. With the joint work of Studio Van Onck and Zanussi, industrial design was responsible for the creation of the “Family Lines”.In collaboration with the Studio Van Onck, studies were made of the possibilities of typological and topological dashboards, the creation of basic rules for using the product graphics, expressed in designing families of symbols, use of lettering and use of color.
From 1982, Roberto Pezzetta was responsible for internal Zanussi industrial design.
In 1984 the Swedish multinational Electrolux acquired control of the company; the industrial design office became one of the three major Design Centers that the Electrolux Group had in the world: Stockholm, Pordenone and Columbus (Ohio-U.S.).
Roberto Pezzetta and his staff invented, in 1986, the first totally hidden dishwasher. In 1987 Zanussi presented "The Wizard's Collection" designed by Pezzetta and the Zanussi Industrial Design Center and was selected at the Compasso d’Oro in 1987 and 1989. The following year the Wizard refrigerator was joined by the black “Wizard” cooktops and ovens.
Next came "Zoe" (washing machine invented in 1989), "Teo" (electric cooker), and "Oz" refrigerator manufactured in 1998. "Input" was an electronic washing machine, while “Amie” was a washing machine designed especially for such users as the elderly, visually impaired and blind people.
In the following years the design efforts of the Zanussi Industrial Design Center focused particularly on built-in appliances, shown by the series of ovens and dishwashers Softech with the front surface of tempered glass formed in three dimensions.
In 2000 two new products, the washing machine “Iz” (named “Jetsy”- Rex in Italy) and Rex hit series “Quadro” for built-in, both also awarded the Good Design Award of Chicago (among other prizes). "Izzi" in 2002, was a free standing dishwasher.
the "H-Box" series was equipment for the kitchen made from stainless steel.
Meanwhile, the Zanussi Industrial Design Center, led by Pezzetta for two decades from 1982 to 2002, became Electrolux European Design Center based in Pordenone and Roberto Pezzetta ended the Zanussi cycle assuming the role of Creative Design Director of Electrolux Group (2002–2005).
Prizes for the design of white appliances
- Compasso d’Oro ADI in 1962 for cooker series 700.
- Compasso d’Oro ADI in 1967 for compact washing machine P5.
- Compasso d'Oro ADI in 1981 for corporate image and the entire production.
- Six products selected at the Compasso d'Oro ADI in 1987, 1989, 1991 and 2008.
- Three honour selections at the Compasso d'Oro ADI 1998, 2001 and 2004.
- Two Golden Medals at the Biannuals of Design in Lubiana BIO 12 and BIO19.
- SAMI du Design at Salon des Arts Menagers in Paris year 1990.
- Goed Industrieel Ontwerp (the Netherlands) in 1987,1991,1999 and 2001.
- Design Prestige in Brno 1997.
- Premio De Diseño MCMXCVIII. XVI Feria Internacional de L'Avana, Cuba1998.
- Ten "Good Design" awards at the Chicago Athenaeum in Chicago in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004.
Until the end of the 1980s Zanussi service was run from Slough and was a network of independent repairers.
In the early 1990s Electrolux amalgamated all its UK brands under one service entity. This entity was split, dependent on region, between the Zanussi service agents and the local Electrolux Service Centre. In general those in a high population density area were given to the Electrolux employed centres. Tricity Bendix, Electrolux and AEG as well as Zanussi were all to be serviced by the one network.
This was changed in the late 1990s and early 2000s as Electrolux sold or gave away the regional service centres, generally to the existing management or to area managers to run as independent businesses.
This service network was re-branded and became Service Force which still exists today but is, once again, all operated by independent service companies who repair and supply spare parts for all of the brands.