There IS Bad Design in Italy

coffee1Well, there’s not much, but if you find yourself in the international terminal in Milan’s airport in need of an espresso, you’re in for a headache because of poor design. The Caffe Tazza d’Oro emits enticing smells of freshly brewed Arabica and the sharp, violent sound of milk steaming but its seduction leads to a disappointment. In fact, you’re fortunate if you can obtain a drink at all via a system of purchase and pick-up that must have been dreamt up by bored comedians.The confusion begins when you try to order at the café bar. Employees, clearly not pleased to be working, don’t feel it’s their duty to explain the procedure to eager customers with little time. Instead all questions, unless spoken in perfect Italian, are answered with a gesture toward another counter that appears to sell only magazines and newspapers on the opposite side of the café. It’s at this other counter that you pay for your order and obtain the precious receipt to present to the baristas. Imagine this disconnect compounded by a lack of menus and no indication of which currencies are accepted.

Like an alluring beauty, Italy requires imagination and the effort of a chase of those who would access her treasures but the Caffe Tazza d’Oro is a poor cultural representation. The Italian design tradition is too rich in elegant solutions to permit the absence of a single sign explaining how to navigate the unfortunate fate of wanting coffee at this café. Until things change, legions of cross travelers will continue to pass through Milan’s airport without knowing the warm kiss of an Illy cappuccino.  

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