History of Alessi
Alessi was founded in 1921 by Giovanni Alessi. The company’s first designs were coffee pots and trays for the hotel trade. In 1945 Alessi unveiled its classic BombÃ© coffee and tea set designed by Alessi’s son Carlo, a designer who became general manager of the company. Early collaborations with architects and designers began under Alberto in the 1970s with the likes of Ettore Sottsass, moving Alessi into tableware and giftware in the realm of ‘art-design’.
In 1978, Alessi unveiled an espresso-coffee pot designed by Richard Sapper, who continues to collaborate with the company. During this period Alessi diversified from metalwares into ceramics, brass and wooden products.
In the 1980s, Alessi won acclaim as a leading proponent of Postmodern design by linking silverware design with architecture rather than with its handicrafts roots. In the early 1980s architect Michael Graves designed his iconic kettle with the spout of a whistling bird, while another architect, Richard Meier, designed a tea and coffee set referencing Russian artist Kasimir Malevich.
Prominent names from the Italian design world soon signed with Alessi, numbering among them Alessandro Mendini, Achille Castiglioni, Stefano Giovannoni and Guido Venturini.
It was during the 1990s that Alessi took another deft turn, by collaborating with prominent designers such as Ron Arad, Marc Newson, Jasper Morrison and Philippe Starck. Starck’s infamous Juicy Salif lemon squeezer, designed for Alessi in the early 1990s, arguably represents the zenith of Postmodern product design, with its unforgettable form compromised only by its notoriously challenging function.
For its latest collection Alessi has collaborated with many of its longstanding designers such as Richard Sapper, who has created his towering Todo cheese grater, and Giovannoni, who has designed the arresting Baba containers. Arad has designed the striking Chiringuito cocktail shaker, with its curious twist-action stirrer. Italian car maker Fiat has also just launched its Alessi-designed Fiat Panda. A set of tea and coffee Towers, which will be launched in the autumn, is the group’s next design initiative.