Today, taking a selfie is easy. Simply raise your hand, open an app, click, and voila. Sixty years ago, though, it was a different tale altogether. It took a solid five minutes to develop photos, and those black-and-white prints had a certain stickiness to them. They clung to that sticky state until the digital revolution swept in. And guess what? Snapshots purists weren’t exactly thrilled about it, according to Silvio Angori, COO of Dedem, the company that introduced Italy’s first passport photo booth back in 1962 at the iconic Pininfarina – global icon of Italian design – headquarters in Cambiano, just outside Turin.
Today, we’re celebrating the launch of Icona, a new booth, “an object that comes from history and moves towards the future” (Alessandro Lama, Dedem Marketing Director). Currently boasting 3,600 booths across Italy, Dedem churns out a whopping 10 million photo cards annually. By 2024, half of the 150 new booths will be the cutting-edge Icona.
Pininfarina spearheaded the new design, with Nicola Girotti, the head of product design at the esteemed brand rooted in the automotive industry, shedding light on the three key elements of the innovative cabin. This space, reminiscent of an inverted L, seamlessly blends a high-tech vibe with a dash of 1980s sci-fi movie brutalism. Picture sleek screens, clean straight lines, and rounded shapes, punctuated by metallic inserts amid a dominant black-and-white color scheme. Bid farewell to the old, square, wood-look booth with its nostalgic PHOTOS sign and Berlin photo booth vibes
Icona’s design philosophy revolves around three key principles, the first being accessibility. Say goodbye to the traditional metal stool as it makes room for a retractable seat. Now the cabin is easier to use for people with limited mobility. “An AI system adjusts the camera based on the height of the face”, says Girotti. Then there’s the shift from a push-button panel to a touchscreen, eliminating physical buttons and paving the way for future features and customization. A comprehensive effort is underway to revamp the entire user experience. Furthermore, the environmental aspect: the cabin incorporates steel and 3D printed elements, prioritizing energy efficiency. This innovative design is the culmination of nearly two years of collaboration between Dedem and Pininfarina.
“We don’t just make cars”, says Silvio Angori, CEO of Pininfarina. Quite the opposite, “we make dreams come true”. Angori elaborates on the brand’s evolution, transitioning from automobiles to product design and architecture, and now advancing into experiential design. This cabin, reminiscent of a time “when selfies didn’t exist” or were something else entirely, he concludes, “is not just a product, it’s a whole experience”.