In 1921 on Lake Orta - a small valley in the Italian Alps renowned for its traditional metal & wood handicraft, Giovanni Alessi created the kitchenware brand Alessi. Always a family run business, Giovanni’s Son Carlo, was the original design force behind Alessi, drawing from his training as an industrial designer. He developed virtually all products between 1935-1945, before taking over as Corporate General Manager in the 1950s. Freelance designers were then brought in to create new kitchenware concepts; from this point the brand has been known as a one of the classical ‘Italian Design Factories’.
Currently in its third generation with Alberto Alessi at the helm, the brand is now one of the most well respected kitchenware makers in the world, but continues to remain loyal to their traditional metal craft history. Alberto demonstrates this ethic on the Alessi website…
‘Alessi products are still considered as being handicraft items made with the aid of machines: by this I mean that, even though we rely on contemporary, industrial technology and processing equipment, at depth our practice - the one I believe we ought to stick to, our inherent attitude is still rooted in a handicraft culture.’
This love for tradition combined with contemporary design is a key theme that continuously runs through the brand’s history. Although working almost exclusively with metal, like high grade stainless steel which is still made in Italy by skilled craftsmen, other materials have been introduced throughout the years such as porcelain, glass, wood & plastics. Each new material has its own carefully created production process to ensure that every finished Alessi product is of the utmost quality, whether using contemporary elements or age old practices.
Since the 1980s, Alessi has focused on creating ‘designer objects’ rather than everyday accessories, working with over 500 celebrated designers in the process instead of having their own artistic team. They are proudly part of the ‘Italian Design Factories’ movement which is somewhere between manufacturing & art, Alberto goes on to explain this type of production:
‘I am referring to a historical group of companies for whom design is - I may use a somewhat exaggerated term - a Mission, an activity which has gradually broken away from its original meaning as a simple formal project for an object and has become a sort of "overall philosophy", a "Weltanschauung"(world view), underlying all of these companies' operational steps: we believe that our true nature comes closer to a "Research Lab in the Applied Arts" than to an industry in the traditional sense of the term.’
The myriad of designers Alessi have collaborated with each brought something unique to the brand, and continues to set them apart from other homeware companies. By commissioning already established designers and seeking out new talent, Alessi are able to remain ahead in the design world and create products that quickly become iconic in this industry. The Richard Sapper was the first kettle to reach this coveted status in 1983, with brass spouts which whistle in B & E notes to create a more tuneful sound that the standard deafening screech. Another legendary kettle is architect Michael Graves’ fun bird creation revealed in 1985, it sings when boiling and is now a collector’s item, frequently described as the object that brought affordable fine design to the world. Perhaps the most iconic of all is Philippe Starck’s Juicy Salif lemon squeezer , a innovative feat which now permanently resides in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, it is more space age gadget than kitchen utensil and is named time & again as one of the greatest design artefacts of our time.
The idea of creating objects that are practical to use yet part of a bigger design picture is clear in the look & feel of every Alessi product. The extensive range of kitchenware, cutlery & tableware allow you to effortlessly add iconic Italian style to your home that will remain timeless and not fade with passing trends.
Eternally chic, Alessi 18/10 stainless steel cutlery not only demonstrates cutting edge Italian design but is so well made that it can be used as stunning everyday dining utensils. With a host of designing minds behind the striking ranges such as, Toyo Ito (Mu Collection), Ettore Sottsass (Nuovo Milano) & David Chipperfield (Santiago) there is a cutlery style to suit every theme & décor. If you are not looking to completely replace your existing flatware, an array of stand-alone pieces such as the Big Love Spoons & Mediterrano servers can create bold statements that will complement your current cutlery styles.
Tableware & Serveware
Set the table in style with Alessi’s quirky table accessories, including serving dishes, centrepieces & trivets. Dessert has never been more fun than with the Big Love bowl collections designed by Mirriam Mirri, perfect to use in conjunction with the aforementioned Big Love spoons (the ice cream bowls actually include one of these fabulous spoons), crafted from stainless steel & with colourful thermoplastic resin these delightful bowls are guaranteed to brighten every dining setting. Trivets, whilst practical can also show off your personality with the scatter patterned Blow-Up mat flawlessly combining these attributes. Centrepieces are the ideal dining table statement which allow you to be as bold as you dare by adding your own floral arrangements to beautifully designed bowls & vases. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, add unusual objects such as pine cones or candles to create your own unique table decoration.
From designer kettles to unique tea strainers, there is an Alessi concept to aid you with any kitchen activity, whilst incorporating timeless yet unique elegance into your home. Jasper Morrison’s collection of pots & pans are the height of versatility, suitable to use on virtually any form of cooking surface& are perfect accompaniments to any of the brands iconic kettles. Distinctive small accessories round out the Alessi kitchenware range, such as eccentric herb storage, space age style colanders & melodic tea strainers, which add fun quirkiness to the room. This extensive range of functional yet frequently bizarre accessories, quickly become talking points in your home and are a delight for visitors to discover.
Whether you desire beautifully designed reliability or bold statements when styling your interiors, Alessi has everything you will need for your kitchen or table settings. This timeless brand remains at the forefront of luxurious Italian design and has the ability to emphasise tradition whilst continuing to invent new & unique concepts that astound & amaze.