Florian Hufnagl

Alberto Alessi is an entrepreneur who has written the history of design and continues to actively participate in the landscape of contemporary design.

Alessandro Mendini is a legend in the design world. His lucid, analytical intelligence and critical, watchful eye are still a source of amazement and restlessness, even after many years of professional practice ...

Florian
Hufnagl

Alberto Alessi is an entrepreneur who has written the history of design and continues to actively participate in the landscape of contemporary design.

Alessandro Mendini is a legend in the design world.

His lucid, analytical intelligence and critical, watchful eye are still a source of amazement and restlessness, even after many years of professional practice.

In recent decades, the two have jointly developed all kinds of projects that are of phenotypic value for Italian design.

The bond between such different personalities is the fact that their work was initially misunderstood, or that the scope and depth of their vision weren’t immediately understood in their entirety.

This is an important point, and today it tends to be neglected on the contrary, they are both monuments of Italian design now, inextricably linked to the country where they practice their profession.

The force that animates them and the glue that binds them is probably the desire to create something new and an alternative way of thinking.

And this is also the motivation at the root of such an unusual collaboration between an entrepreneur, a designer and our museum, each having pledged, in their own way, to try to give a new definition to the major themes of the “humanization of society through design”, sustainability and social responsibility.

After nearly three decades of collaboration and intellectual exchange between Die Neue Sammlung The International Design Museum in Munich and Alessi, the company, in the guise of its spiritus rector Alberto Alessi, we now turn together with Alessandro Mendini’s visionary and restless spirit to take a look back at the past in order to find our way into the future.

An adventure that is a source of inspiration in an era of radical change.
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Florian Hufnagl

Alberto Alessi

Trop sucré? Usually, for us here at Alessi, the definition of a historical period by mere convention ten years is only possible in retrospect, meaning after that period is over, and has passed into history.

So today we’re able to look back over the recent decades and see them as: the final phase of the Italian Bel Design ...

Alberto
Alessi

Trop sucré? Usually, for us here at Alessi, the definition of a historical period by mere convention ten years is only possible in retrospect, meaning after that period is over, and has passed into history.

So today we’re able to look back over the recent decades and see them as: the final phase of the Italian Bel Design (the ’70s), the Postmodern period (the ’80s), the Ludic period (‘90s) and finally, thanks to the recent definition by Mendini, the Eclectic Moment (the ’00s).

On the occasion of this exhibition, we’ve tried to conduct a stimulating, if difficult, exercise: defining in advance the directions in which the next decade will lead us.

A difficult, and perhaps impossible, exercise precisely because of our nature as mediators in the field of design.

Let me try to explain.

I have always maintained that our true nature is that of an industrial research laboratory in the field of Applied Arts, today called design.

Our task is to take on the continuous, tireless job of mediating between the proposals offered by the most advanced creativity available today for Product Design on an international scale on one hand and public expectations on the other.

Typical of our business’ characteristics, an exquisitely Italian genetic trait, is that we work in a so-called contemporary “commercial art”.

The term “commercial art” was first used, as far as I know, by the philosopher Gianni Vattimo to define those forms of activities with an artistic and poetic component (such as fashion, cinema, rock music) that, unlike the so-called fine arts, depend on public consent to justify their existence.

Without some kind of consensus from the audience, any kind of audience as long as it’s enlarged and not confined to a small circle of insiders (like in the fine arts), design cannot exist.

This probably has something to do with the importance of the role manufacturing plays in our kind of organizations, be they small or large.

“Most Advanced Yet Acceptable” Raymond Loewy would recommend to his students, proposing the M.A.Y.A. approach.

And that’s what we do in our research laboratory: we identify new talents and ask them for the umpteenth time to redesign the world of products that will surround us in the coming years.

And, I confess, we also try to promote the emergence of new products that are not only based on the principle of commercial success but that also harbour poetic and artistic values, a hint of transcendence within the immanence of the current phase of our consumer society.

Certainly we’re able to exert some influence on the public, trying to lead it toward a certain level of quality in design, one we believe is correct and appropriate to a given moment in history.

But the last word belongs to them.

We’d like for our products to tend toward being universal, and we’d like to aspire to making new myths that help to decipher our age. But we’re also aware that we’re operating on an invisible “borderline” that separates the possible from the not possible: that which the public is ready to understand, accept and even love, and that which it won’t be able to understand and make their own.

Such is the fate of an Italian design factory. So far, in order to orient myself in the complex landscape of contemporary design, I have converted for my personal use sociologist Michel Maffesoli’s dichotomy that, to explain the movements of modern society, speaks of “paranoid behaviour” and “methanoic behaviour”.

For instance, paranoid behaviour is the prescriptive type seen in our teachers, and our parents, where they’re always telling us how we should behave, what is right and what is wrong.

The methanoic behaviour, on the other hand, is that of who lovingly puts himself on the level of society, of the people, giving them what they want, what they seem to need, without imposing their own dogmas. A commendable example of paranoid behaviour can be found in publishers who insist on publishing poets who are close to their hearts, in small runs of maybe a thousand copies.

And an illustration of methanoic behaviour might be that of contemporary TV commercials that serve up ignominious programmes based on ratings to the public. Continuing on to design, Enzo Mari is paranoid when he says that if he sees his project selling well, then he starts thinking it’s not very good at all. On the methanoic side, we have Giovannoni who says he only cares that it sells well. In between these two apparent opposites (used in a dialectical way) is where our activity resides.

We function as “artistic mediators” in the world of design. Recently, the Bouroullec brothers offered me a new dichotomy that I found to be both up-to-date and clever. It compares, trop sucré and pas trop sucré. In other words, it deals with the amount of sugar (i.e. the search for epiphanization) that is put into projects.

For me, this is a promising line of demarcation I can identify with and plan to use in the coming decade. And I’d like for you, too, to try to classify the 12 new projects presented in this book, a preview of the next few collections that will host them and respond to our “new topical issues” for this decade.
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alessi
alessi

Alessandro Mendini

The book “Domestic Landscape” marked the beginning of Alessi’s self-awareness as a company. Initially, although its growth had not been systematic, it accumulated a large and varied number of items in its inventory. Some good and some best-sellers.

Alessandro
Mendini

The book “Domestic Landscape” marked the beginning of Alessi’s self-awareness as a company.

Initially, although its growth had not been systematic, it accumulated a large and varied number of items in its inventory.

Some good and some best-sellers.

In the ’70s the company was able to position itself solidly in the institutional scene of Italian Bel Design. It enjoyed considerable prestige but wasn’t touched by the more subtle aspects of the radical design experience.

Now, this is a major exhibition about a leading player in the “household items” industry.

In deciding the collection, it seemed necessary to by-pass the descriptive and historical analysis within the company itself, proposing instead a series of more general topics.

We think that the issues faced by Alessi can be extended to the numerous, and pressing, calls for change faced across the design industry throughout the world today.

The exhibition, therefore, starting from a critical analysis of Alessi’s internal development strategies throughout its entire history, focuses on the most current scenarios, those that need to be addressed now, and solved everywhere.

For example, the simplification of production processes, the cultural relationship between East and West, reuse of waste and partially finished pieces, new techniques and so on.

And also, of course, the transformation of aesthetic sensibilities that must be functional in today’s fast-changing lifestyles. So the heart of the exhibition identifies ten key issues, “the new demands,” whose theoretical approach seems to be valid for Alessi, but also for other industries, and also useful for schools on an educational level.

These same design “themes” have been assigned, one each, to an equal number of designers who have come up with some new objects designed for future production.

The exhibition, therefore, centres on a series of “new-products” presented, naturally, as prototypes.

That is to say, a few surprises that can be discussed critically and theoretically.

Obviously there is a historical-descriptive component to the exhibition.

It, too, has been based on theoretical grounds, expressing Alessi’s strategic evolution over time, which have gradually led over time to the moment and development we’re living today.

This is what Alessi is pursuing now: the idea of having an identity of infinite multiplicity. An idea consistent with the sine-wave of history, passing from eclecticism to the need for new synthesis: to arrange the unknown criteria of certainty and accountability that today’s world requires.
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Mendini
Mendini
Mendini
                                 
The Historical Phases. The historical phases of the industry are characterised by specific products, styles and attitudes. Highlights of the brand’s life are characterized by an admirable sequence of icons and best-sellers that have definitely become part of our collective imagination. ...

The Historical
Phases

The historical phases of the industry are characterised by specific products, styles and attitudes. Highlights of the brand’s life are characterized by an admirable sequence of icons and best-sellers that have definitely become part of our collective imagination. The origins, the famous “Bombé” tea service, that came to symbolise the brand (1945), the hotel line, the ’70s, the idea of the “Aesthetic Factory”, the pots, the anti-design, the ludic-psychoanalytical moment and the anthropological one.

From the beginning the common thread of metal, aluminium, nickel-silver and steel expands to include other materials like glass, wood, ceramics, silver, up to the arrival of plastic.

The masters of Alessi: Sottsass, Sapper, Castiglioni and Mendini, Rossi, Graves, Starck, Branzi, Mari. The icons: “Juicy Salif” citrus-squeezer, “La cubica” pot, “100% Make Up”, “La conica”, the kettles, the “Anna G.” corkscrew, Sottsass’ condiment set, Sapper’s 9090 Espresso coffee maker, the “Firebird” electronic gas lighter, the “Pasta Set”.

They’re objects that we affectionately keep turning over in our minds.

It is precisely this feature of being a household presence, as well as everyday tools, which gives all objects by Alessi that gradient of animism and empathy that makes them seem like friends of the family.

Seen and taken together, these objects have become part of history, even if they’re still in the catalogue; they make a fascinating and positive group. But it is also important to analyse them one by one in order to understand them, follow their history, motivation, quality and meaning.
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Fasi Storiche Alessi
Fasi Storiche Alessi

alessi d’apres
di alberto alessi

Officially my career at Alessi began in July 1970, the day after I graduated in law. With a strongly utopian view of “multiplied art,” I developed my cultural-theoretic manifesto championing a new commercial civilization offering the consuming masses veritable artistic items at low prices. ...

alessi d’apres
di alberto alessi

Officially my career at Alessi began in July 1970, the day after I graduated in law. With a strongly utopian view of “multiplied art,” I developed my cultural-theoretic manifesto championing a new commercial civilization offering the consuming masses veritable artistic items at low prices.

The designers signed up for the “art multiples” were Italian sculptors Giò Pomodoro, Carmelo Cappello, Pietro Consagra and Andrea Cascella, with Yugoslav Dušan Džamonja.

Alberto Alessi
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Fasi Storiche Alessi
Fasi Storiche Alessi
Fasi Storiche Alessi
Fasi Storiche Alessi
Fasi Storiche Alessi
Fasi Storiche Alessi
Fasi Storiche Alessi
Fasi Storiche Alessi
Fasi Storiche Alessi
Fasi Storiche Alessi
Fasi Storiche Alessi
Fasi Storiche Alessi
Fasi Storiche Alessi
Fasi Storiche Alessi
                                 
The Present Time In Alessi’s ecosystem, the present is characterised by an eclectic attitude. The various stylistic and typological stages, and those of the materials and the designers that have been developed over the past decades, started being replaced around the beginning of the millennium with of a heterogeneous series of languages and actions typical of a mannerist era. ...

The Present Time

In Alessi’s ecosystem, the present is characterised by an eclectic attitude. The various stylistic and typological stages, and those of the materials and the designers that have been developed over the past decades, started being replaced around the beginning of the millennium with of a heterogeneous series of languages and actions typical of a mannerist era.

The entire stock of knowledge present in the previous catalogues, as well as its traditional openness, have been studied anew, expanded upon and reinterpreted with an expansion and proliferation of products that had never occurred before in Alessi’s history.

The increasingly sophisticated methods of preparing prototypes, along with the increased variety of price ranges and production methods, have lead to a more extensive, varied and richer collection.

If, by its nature, eclecticism leads to images and products spreading like wildfire, similar to how mannerism generates repetitive rules, the homogeneity of the overall scheme is guaranteed by the Alessi brand that, due to its nature and traditional strengths, remains unmistakable.

Since 2000, the entire range of knowledge present in the housewares’ catalogues, and in the neighbouring areas, has been strictly classified and reintroduced as “new” to the public.

Then the company opened up to another new area, that of “licensing”, involving bathrooms, kitchens, watches, home appliances, phones, pens and more.

Today, the company’s production is divided into three brands: Officina Alessi for research and the more experimental projects; Alessi for the classic production; A di Alessi dedicated to the so-called “popular” design.
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Presente Alessi
Presente Alessi
Presente Alessi
Presente Alessi
Presente Alessi
Presente Alessi
Presente Alessi
Presente Alessi
Presente Alessi
Presente Alessi
Presente Alessi
Presente Alessi
Presente Alessi
                                 

The new topical issues

“The new topical issues” refer to a number of issues which Alessi is committed to. They constitute, and interpret, the company’s policies and strategies for the future. It is believed that these issues play an active role in the transformations occurring throughout the global landscape of design today. Of the twelve new projects presented here, nine are intended for actual production in the near future. ...

The new topical issues

“The new topical issues” refer to a number of issues which Alessi is committed to. They constitute, and interpret, the company’s policies and strategies for the future. It is believed that these issues play an active role in the transformations occurring throughout the global landscape of design today. Of the twelve new projects presented here, nine are intended for actual production in the near future.

The tenth is an edition of some multiples by Gruppo T, the eleventh is a preview of a project that will be developed in 2011 along with the BIDC (Beijing industry design centre), which will open the doors of the Forbidden City with the work of eight Chinese architects developing their thinking surrounding the themes of food, dining and “the table” in general.

The last one is a conceptually provocative project from the minds of a group of young, Dutch designers. The underlying theme common to all of these proposals is an attention to reuse, low energy consumption, simplicity of production, reduction of waste and, as always, a concerted effort regarding imagination and aesthetics. Compared to previous eclectic times, in the presence of these new proposals, the choices we make and the strategies developed are necessarily more focused. Theory, production, design, management, marketing and communications, all elements involved, tend to merge into a metaproject: “new radicalism”.

The archaic, the hybrid, the ordinary, the origins and extreme styling, the new market balance all become nodal points in this experiment, in this period of serious responsibilities.
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Deltour

“A Tempo”: a New Simplicity. This family of projects stems from the desire to work with a very elementary material, metal wire. Today’s wire industry is highly developed, even though it’s a material that is often put to industrial use rather than considered for domestic purposes. ...

Deltour

“A Tempo”: a New Simplicity. This family of projects stems from the desire to work with a very elementary material, metal wire. Today’s wire industry is highly developed, even though it’s a material that is often put to industrial use rather than considered for domestic purposes. The designer wanted to explore its expressive potential, rethinking its language.
The objects in the “A Tempo” family play in a crescendo of rhythm, movement, length and density. Working the wire as if it were a graphic element allowed her to highlight its aesthetic qualities, creating an unusual, different language characterised by very special optical effects. The packaging is very basic: a simple sheet of paper used to wrap each object, just like the very first items sold by Alessi.
When Konstantin Grcic suggested I take a look at the work of his young French collaborator, I was struck by the almost Spartan, pauper-like simplicity of her search for the essence of things, that pervaded her whole book of drawings and photographs.
The designers I meet, especially when they’re very young, often have a good deal of courage and brashness that enables them to take on very difficult, tough issues fearlessly, such as trying to find a sort of New Simplicity in the myriad of the designer goods available today.
The problem is knowing how to create something that is truly simple without just not repeating forms that already exist in the mare magnum of contemporary industrial production.
Pauline has done just that, creating a family of steel-wire objects that not only have a first-rate image, but are also capable of expressing a breath of fresh hope and newness. Chapeau! A. A.
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Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi

Naoto Fukasawa

“Shiba”: a paradigm for culinary normality. It seems that Naoto is a decent amateur chef. He likes to point out that “In recent years Japanese cuisine has been well received around the world for being healthy and for its delicate taste, variety and simplicity. ...

The new topical issues

“Shiba”: a paradigm for culinary normality. It seems that Naoto is a decent amateur chef. He likes to point out that “In recent years Japanese cuisine has been well received around the world for being healthy and for its delicate taste, variety and simplicity. These aspects of Japanese cuisine can also be found in the Japanese fusion dishes that are becoming increasingly popular. Furthermore, Japanese cuisine is also well known for its ability of capturing the characteristic of every single ingredient, which in itself can almost be considered as an art form.” In his intention to create a truly new culinary paradigm he has called this series “Shiba”: “Shiba is one of the iconic dog that expresses Japanese characteristics.
This image seemed to me the most iconic, symbolizing our new collection of pots and pans. With this range of products I wanted to create tools that people can continue to use throughout the years, rooting in their culture, repairing rather than replacing them, somehow even enjoying the signs of use they acquire over time, as habits and tastes evolve.”
The core of his project lies in the consideration that, at the end of the day, in your private life, you tend to use a very limited number of pots and pans compared to the traditional concept of cookware. So Fukasawa limited himself to designing only those that are strictly necessary, with his characteristic minimalist rigor, which are the same ones that we produced.
They were designed for a family of four, with the possibility of being extended to include a couple of guests. Their shape, seemingly modest, hides an exasperated study of details, as might be expected from his purist expression. Accompanying this project, Naoto added some of his own personal recipes from Japan, to which I responded with an equal number of recipes from my family’s tradition. A. A.
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Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi

Bouroullec

“Ovale”: a Table Service pas trop sucré. This is how Ronan described their project: “The ‘Ovale’ collection strives to be original, but it also wants to be rustic and traditional. We set out in pursuit of delicate expression. ...

Bouroullec

“Ovale”: a Table Service pas trop sucré. This is how Ronan described their project: “The ‘Ovale’ collection strives to be original, but it also wants to be rustic and traditional. We set out in pursuit of delicate expression. This composition speaks about every day life, about breakfast, lunch, about everyone getting together for dinner. There is a desire for simplicity”.
He then coined a new expression to describe Alessi, a likeness that appeals to me: “For me, Alessi is very similar to the operation described in Tim Burton’s ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’. A wonderful factory where Alessi produces cakes and sweets. Let’s say, with this collection, that we tried to reach an equilibrium: a project that’s not too sweet, I’d say it’s rather delicate”.
Delicate, slightly expressive, simple, almost neo-primitive, deliberately saying “Hold the sugar!” The complete table service, “Ovale”, marks the entry into the Alessi catalogue of the two brothers from Brittany.
I am very grateful to them not only for this beautiful project with its subsidiary expressiveness I’m sure will find its way among the major pièces de resistence of our catalogue, but also for having coined the expression producteur de sucrerie (Producer of sweet things), which is worth Starck’s definition in the 80s, Alessi est un Marchand de bonheur (Alessi is a Merchant of happiness). A. A.
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Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi

Carlo Alessi + UTA

“Memories From The Future”: the re-edition of Alessi projects for tea and coffee, bar and kitchen from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. For a long time now I’ve been thinking about re-issuing some of Alessi’s historical projects from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. ...

Carlo Alessi + UTA

“Memories From The Future”: the re-edition of Alessi projects for tea and coffee, bar and kitchen from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. For a long time now I’ve been thinking about re-issuing some of Alessi’s historical projects from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. On a personal level, these objects are part of my childhood memories: I always saw them used in my parents’ house. From time to time they’d bring out the Wine cooler in silver-plated brass with round knobs to keep the white wine cool at the dinner table, or the “Bombé” tea service we used to offer tea to our guests, or that strange little object called the “Bottle for bitter” in the catalogues which seemed straight out of a painting by Depero, or the Cake stand in nickel silver and cut glass from the twenties, a special run produced for a customer in Switzerland of which I was lucky enough to find a piece in a shop in Geneva years ago. On a professional level, that of design management which is my job, the “normalcy” of these household objects has always struck me.
They weren’t just “normal” in the sense that they were used everyday at home. They were examples of an era of the consumer society which was destined to disappear quickly: a time I’d call pre-design, prior to the phenomenon of Designer goods in all of our homes. Of course, in a way, they were designed too.
That is to say, they were designed by: my Dad (Carlo Alessi) or still earlier, by the technicians of the product development office (a.k.a “UTA”, “Ufficio Tecnico Alessi”), perhaps with the help of a particularly authoritative salesman. But they had two features that distinguish them from contemporary design projects: they weren’t part of a culture of glossy, Designer products; and they were heavily influenced by almost obsessive attention to function, proper manufacturing methods and production costs. Today, I believe that if I needed a Jar for the kitchen, given the choice of all the many high-quality projects in our catalogue, maybe I’d choose the UTA1383 Jar from 1936, the one I always saw on my mother’s kitchen table. And not just for sentimental reasons.
It also comes from being sort of tired now and again of everything that is “over designed”. That’s it: today, I tend to interpret the absence of flights of fancy, and the lack of searching for an epiphany at all costs, both central to production in the period between the wars, as two extremely rare qualities in contemporary design.
Qualities that, paradoxically, make these old projects “epiphanize” in their own way in the current scenario of goods and, therefore, make them fall within the infinite panoply of contemporary consumer goods. Like a good, home-cooked, family meal, sometimes they can come to the aid of our palates that have become too accustomed to the sophisticated dishes of new cuisines. A. A.
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Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi

Campana

“Peneira”: semplicity of materials and inventive design ability. “Peneira” is a new collection of baskets designed by the Campana brothers for Alessi. A hallmark throughout the Brazilian duo’s work, these products are made of simple, basic materials that attain their level of sophistication by skilfully and cleverly combining them. ...

Campana

“Peneira”: semplicity of materials and inventive design ability. “Peneira” is a new collection of baskets designed by the Campana brothers for Alessi. A hallmark throughout the Brazilian duo’s work, these products are made of simple, basic materials that attain their level of sophistication by skilfully and cleverly combining them. The malleability of the metal mesh used for the layers gives the product a blurry, out-of-focus transparency, while the tailored, natural fiber trimming used to finish the piece’s rim softens the final product. With this project, the Campanas have successfully transformed the mechanical strength of steel mesh into a series of very delicate and impalpable baskets : “We called this collection ‘Peneira’: a word meaning ‘sieve’ in Portuguese, used by Brazilian Indians. The translation from the handmade prototype to the industrial process maintains the original spirit of our creations and demonstrates once again how the refined craftsmanship in our design perfectly combines with the technical know how of Alessi’s production.” A. A.
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Istanze Alessi

Alessandro Mendini

“Moka Alessi”: attempting to re-design an Italian archetype. This project is a tribute to my maternal grandfather Alfonso Bialetti who, in the ’30s of the 20th century, was the inventor, designer and first manufacturer of the Moka Express, the popular Italian espresso coffee maker. ...

The new topical issues

“Moka Alessi”: attempting to re-design an Italian archetype. This project is a tribute to my maternal grandfather Alfonso Bialetti who, in the ’30s of the 20th century, was the inventor, designer and first manufacturer of the Moka Express, the popular Italian espresso coffee maker. Octagonal in shape, inspired by Futurism and Art Deco, and produced in die cast aluminium, the “Moka” is an archetype in its category, earning my grandfather eternal fame as a designer, even though he probably wasn’t looking for it. My grandfather was one of those ingenious craftsmen so prevalent throughout Italy’s history.
As a youth he lived at length in Paris where he learned the technique of die cast aluminum. Returning to his native Valley and to Crusinallo between Lake Orta and Lake Maggiore, he established a small factory specializing in the fusion of light metals. He carried on the factory with mixed success until the ’50s because, despite having invented the “Moka” coffee maker in 1931, he didn’t possess the necessary business acumen to turn it into a successful product. Or maybe the time just wasn’t ripe. The fact is that the production struggled along at a craft level until 1945 when, after a period of captivity in Germany, his son Renato returned to Italy and took charge of the operation.
Unlike his father, he was gifted in marketing and launched it internationally, transforming a small workshop into a modern factory, mass-producing a single product. I have often asked myself the reasons why this small household object became such a phenomenonal example of Made in Italy. Recently, it’s even been bestowed the status of proto-Italian design. Basically it is a typical socio-economic phenomenon based on very simple factors: an innovative feature (it made better coffee than that made in a pot, which was historically the method used in northern Italy prior to “Moka”; it was decidedly faster than the Neapolitan coffee maker, used in central and southern Italy; and it was much more practical to use than either of them), the notable effect of com-munication (it was one of the very first durable consumer products of the post-war, economic-boom years that was the subject of a major advertising campaign, including TV) and finally the price: extraordinarily low.
Which means it was affordable for all segments of the society. The fact is that the “Moka” is indelibly inscribed in the collective memory of the Italian people (and not only). It formalized a new, contemporary ritual, intimate and familiar. With the reassuring rumble of the coffee being produced over a gas flame, it has established a connection with the public’s imagination that will continue to be repeated every morning regardless of the fashions currently prevailing on the market of electric, single-serving coffee pots with their packets and capsules. Since its inception, Alessi has embarked on a path different from that taken by grandfather Bialetti’s factory. A point borne out by the fact that Bialetti has become an industry that mass-produces a single, low-priced product, whereas Alessi has based its identity on a catalogue ful
l of many different types of products, styles and designers, sold to a niche clientele at rather high prices. In our history we have already addressed the issue of the Espresso maker with projects created by top designers: Richard Sapper, Aldo Rossi, Michael Graves, King Kong, Piero Lissoni, Wiel Arets, and intended for the high-end market.
This time I asked Alessandro Mendini (with whom I’ve been talking about this issue for at least twenty years) to come up with a new project for a coffee maker, trying to put himself in my grandfather’s shoes and re-interpret the ingenious invention with today’s awareness of the levers effecting contemporary design. And all of this done with the great innovation of maintaining a low price, an exceptionally low price for a product from Alessi. A. A.
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Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi

Anna Gili

“Jungle”: new steel Figurines. A new episode of “Le figure Alessi”: this time they are in laser cut stainless steel, which is then bent and pressed. Anna tells the story: The giraffe Zaffrà, thanks to her long neck, was able to announce the end of the great flood from the deck of the Ark. ...

The new topical issues

“Jungle”: new steel Figurines. A new episode of “Le figure Alessi”: this time they are in laser cut stainless steel, which is then bent and pressed. Anna tells the story: The giraffe Zaffrà, thanks to her long neck, was able to announce the end of the great flood from the deck of the Ark. After all the time she had spent together with the other animal species, and after a cramped, but hospitable, life there, she decided to return to the Savannah where she could roam free and eat leaves from the trees at will. In her homeland it never rained, and the spaces were wide-open, even if sometimes they were dangerous. Running around in complete freedom gave her a very different feeling compared to the time when she was shut up in the Ark along with the other animals.
Upon leaving the Ark she had to get back the movement in her limbs which had almost been forgotten. She felt flat, having always been sitting in the same position, her legs folded up under her like a sheet of paper. Thanks to her long neck she was able to gaze out and see the ruins caused by the flood as it swept away trees and animals that unfortunately hadn’t been invited to climb aboard the Ark. But how was she going to make it all the way to the Savannah alone, without getting lost and how was she going to face the dangers?
So she decided to team up with an elephant, Fantel, and a monkey, too, named Gorì. The elephant could defend her and the monkey could help her with his cunning while she, with her long neck, could spot far-off dangers. They walked long distances, which was a breeze for the monkey Gorì as he sat on top of the elephant Fantel’s back. They crossed many cities and, protected by the elephant’s great size, safely found their way through streets full of strange vehicles that were going faster than them, even though they were so much smaller. After a long way they knew that they’d arrived somewhere similar to their place of origin because they saw other animals of their own species.
But they were very sad and their bodies were withered. The monkey couldn’t resist and asked why they were so sad. They didn’t answer because they didn’t have the strength and thought of these newcomers as aliens who had just arrived in the zoo and, once they realised it, would stop asking such stupid questions. Zaffrà, looking down from the heights of her long neck, saw all of the caged animals and realised that they weren’t in the Savannah.
Thanks to their experience in the Ark they became flat and motionless and, resembling ornaments in this way, fooled the guards and escaped from the zoo. They resumed their journey trying to avoid crowded streets and knew that they should never set foot in a city ever again.
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Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi

Anna Étoile

The Anna G. corkscrew came into being in 1994. Since then, it has been one of a Alessi’s best-sellers and, over time, many variations have been produced in a variety of colors, in plastic and zinc alloy, and in many, many different versions and special editions. It has been miniaturized, but also enlarged in city squares and in front of the factory on a monumental scale ...

Anna Étoile

“Anna Étoile”: seven “Anna G.” corkscrews bejeweled for the ball. The Anna G. corkscrew came into being in 1994. Since then, it has been one of a Alessi’s best-sellers and, over time, many variations have been produced in a variety of colors, in plastic and zinc alloy, and in many, many different versions and special editions. It has been miniaturized, but also enlarged in city squares and in front of the factory on a monumental scale. Its history has been long and varied.
It’s been used both as a trophy and as Marilyn’s beauty mark in the famous advertisement by Lowe Lintas Pirella Göttsche in the year 2000. Now, in a case of “extreme styling,” Anna G. the ballerina has been transformed into a precious object by a master jeweler from Valenza Po. Enamels and precious stones of various types surround her face and body, creating elegant and shimmering effects.
The dancers, seven in all, have their gran diva, crowned with a tiara and bedecked in a diamond necklace. These seven precious objects, having a pedestal that emphasizes their sense of being figurines, are also fully functional, provided they are handled with care. A. M.
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Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi

Disco Cesellato

“Disco Cesellato”, “Asta Barocca” e “Anna Gong”: the eternal seduction of scrolls and flourishes. The historical objects from Alessi’s Baroque period (1944), with their implied kitsch value, have always been popular favourites. ...

Disco Cesellato

“Disco Cesellato”, “Asta Barocca” e “Anna Gong”: the eternal seduction of scrolls and flourishes. The historical objects from Alessi’s Baroque period (1944), with their implied kitsch value, have always been popular favourites.
This eighteenth century kind of decoration, occurring both in the objects’ form (handles, trays, slots, borders) and in their chiseled surfaces was the spark behind the current revival of three projects inspired by those same features. Starting with the cutlery “Asta”, keeping the functional part of the knife, spoon and fork unaltered, modifying only the handle by flattening it to create a surface for the baroque decorations.
Even trays with very simple forms have been engraved with scrolls and flourishes.
And finally, a curious cake holder, based on the one from 1966 called “Mercurio”. In our case the interesting mechanism that opens and closes three trays at two different heights, gave rise to the gentle, and funny, shape of a woman’s face. A. M.
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Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi

Miriorama

“Miriorama”: a return to multiplied art. It isn’t art and it’s not design. It’s miriorama. Miriorama means endless visions (in ancient greek orao, to see, and myrio indicating a nearly infinite quantity). ...

Miriorama

“Miriorama”: a return to multiplied art. It isn’t art and it’s not design. It’s miriorama. Miriorama means endless visions (in ancient greek orao, to see, and myrio indicating a nearly infinite quantity). So, Gruppo T (the ‘T’ stands for time), founded in 1959 by Giovanni Anceschi, Davide Boriani, Gianni Colombo, Gabriele Devecchi, joined a month later, by Grazia Varisco, decided to call their results miriorama (policy statements, events and exhibitions, environments and works).
In other words, the things that Gruppo T manufactured were called miriorama. In 1960, at the showroom of Bruno Danese in Milan, Gruppo T exhibited a limited edition of 10 numbered and signed copies of miriorama objects: an “Abstract video” by Giovanni Anceschi, a “Giradischi ottico-magnetico” by Davide Boriani, a “Rotoplastik” by Gianni Colombo, a “Miramondo” by Gabriele Devecchi, a “Sferisterio semidoppio” by Grazia Varisco. Reviewed in the journal “Domus”, Bruno Munari observed: “A few months ago, at the Danese gallery in Milan, these young artists exhibited a series of new items produced in ten copies (even the idea of a one-off piece makes no sense any more). Today, fifty years later, Alberto Alessi decided to complete this ideal project of “art for everyone”.
In this case, however, we’re not dealing with the simple reproduction of a piece of art, like an etching, but of Art conceived to be reproduced in many copies. It’s a definitive leap in quality: Art leaves the confines of the art-gallery world to spread out and be distributed through channels heretofore unheard of. While maintaining every characteristic of aesthetic satisfaction, the artwork is able to be circulated as an object of design among design objects. Giovanni Anceschi
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Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi

The unforbidden city

The (Un)Forbidden City 2011. A Tablescape of Domestic Possibilities.
Perhaps there isn’t a great difference between the act of making (that is to say producing thus giving birth to an idea) and the act of designing (that is to say thinking, conceiving a form). ...

The unforbidden city

The (Un)Forbidden City 2011. A Tablescape of Domestic Possibilities.
Perhaps there isn’t a great difference between the act of making (that is to say producing thus giving birth to an idea) and the act of designing (that is to say thinking, conceiving a form). Don’t both creators, the one who makes and the one who designs, also exert an activity of the mind and a manufacturing activity at the same time?
What is, and, if it exists, where is the borderline between producing and thinking? And is it still right to continue keeping these two aspects of the activity of mankind separate?
“The (Un)Forbidden City 2011” project tries to find an answer for these questions which are assuming an ever growing importance within the Factories of Italian Design. A. A.

“Designed in China, Made in Italy”!
Designed in China, Made in Italy. What a wonderful proposition from Alberto! The Project is definitely not merely about China in the Past, It could well be a debate on the Present and the consumption of ideas for the Future! We are in a World of Micro-Architecture, a World of Tablescape! A Tablescape of Domestic Possibilities and beyond!
To begin with, we will have altogether 8 designs from 8 architects invited from China, focusing on one of the most generic typologies: A Tray!
The Project could be a perfect opportunity for us to explore the Making of Things and the demonstration of our architectural viewpoints with a relatively tiny object instead of our usual task of master-planning in the scale of a city, this time, a “Tray” to act as a “Site” for events to act on With an appropriate dose of “Chineseness”, we hope the project will be a series of objects to be frequently used and not merely as objects to be admired from a distance, recognizing the importance of masterminding various spaces we inhabit as we live our lives in this 21st century as we accept chaos and uncertainty as a way of life! Gary Chang
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Istanze Alessi

Alessi in Wonderland

When Alberto Alessi visited ‘Grid’, an event organized and designed by six young designers from Eindhoven, he experienced how they created surprising new objects out of existing products and furniture, and invited the designers to come to the Alessi factory in Crusinallo to see if they could employ a similar approach to the existing moulds, products and production techniques of Alessi. ...

Alessi in Wonderland

When Alberto Alessi visited ‘Grid’, an event organized and designed by six young designers from Eindhoven, he experienced how they created surprising new objects out of existing products and furniture, and invited the designers to come to the Alessi factory in Crusinallo to see if they could employ a similar approach to the existing moulds, products and production techniques of Alessi.
Each in their own way, the designers examined the objects and the production processes in the factory and came up with numerous ideas, concepts and designs. A selection of these designs can be seen in the ‘Alessi in Wonderland’-installation. Through keyholes and gaps in the walls, people are able to take a peek at the objects. Set in a mysterious wonderland, they vividly reflect the dreams and fantasies about mirroring stainless steel.
www.alessiinwonderland.com
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Istanze Alessi
Istanze Alessi
                                 
The Philosophy. Since the eighties Alessi has elaborated organisational charts and theoretical references to guide its strategies. They have become evermore precise and well-planned over the years. A series of books, often coinciding with exhibitions, was the impetus to begin experimentation that, in turn, coincided with a general transformation in goods and attitudes. ...

The Philosophy

Since the eighties Alessi has elaborated organisational charts and theoretical references to guide its strategies. They have become evermore precise and well-planned over the years. A series of books, often coinciding with exhibitions, was the impetus to begin experimentation that, in turn, coincided with a general transformation in goods and attitudes. First came the book and exhibition “Paesaggio casalingo” (1979), then the “Tea & Coffee Piazza” (1983) design operation, followed twenty years later by an analogous project, the “Tea & Coffee Towers”, and then the “La Cintura di Orione” (1987), “Officina Alessi” (1989), the vases “La Fabbrica Estetica” (1992).
“F.F.F. – Family Follows Fiction” (1993), “OrienTales” (2008), and so on. And then there were also the video interviews with Alessi’s most important masters.
The “Alessi Style”, its icons, its response to the changing times and habits of consumption, also expressed through advertising, the Centro Studi, the Museum, communication, shop design and window displays. This is the complex project parallel, and essential, to the design of the objects themselves. It deals with a clear theoretical strategy, where experimental intuition and applied research result in real products that are embed an enhanced communicative forcefulness.
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CHIARA ALESSI

From the very beginning, we got used to considering “oggetti e progetti” as a book / catalogue. A strange sort of hybrid that includes and combines two different aspects: the theoretical-narrative nature of a book, and the illustrative nature of an inventory. As a book, it preserves its absolute character, its autonomy throughout the world and over time, its graphic design, its independent distribution network. But in reality, it’s a catalogue, with a textual and illustrative apparatus drawn in part from the huge repertoire that Alessi has accumulated over the years and partly created especially to go along with future means of communication.
There was a time, not surprisingly, when the catalogues were called “encyclopaedias”, a word with an much more illustrious aura that, however simply gave a label to the vary same contents: the story, told as comprehensively and meaningfully as possible, about a certain time through its products.
“Objects and projects” was born under the pretext of accompanying the exhibition in Munich hosted by Die Neue Sammlung – The International Museum in Munich in May 2010. From a certain point of view, we could say that the book / catalogue in large part thanks to the work of Italo Lupi accompanies the exhibition, more than being driven by it. It has extracted the critical, poetic nucleus. The choice to not weigh it down with an array of text serves precisely to reaffirm the requirement of being “durable”, as well as the inevitable compromise with such strong and pervasive iconography. But that’s not all. On the one hand the exhibition had the ambition of tracing, through the Alessi of today, a hypothesis for future scenarios of a good part of Design in general.
On the hand, however, the exhibition’s book of the has ended up reporting, in its “new topical issues”, on the inevitably pragmatic, empirical and dynamic nature of developing new products today. A path that is less theoretical and more proactive, deeply involving the metaproject and designers on the one hand, but also the production, distribution and communication of products on the other, in an elastic relationship of balances, often implied and delicate. So, the catalogue of the exhibition became a book about the company.
But what's a company book if not a catalogue?

GENERAL INFORMATION

Pinakothek der Moderne. Visit the museum
Die Neue Sammlung is one of the four autonomous museums at the Pinakothek der Moderne, presenting permanent and alternating exhibitions on contemporary and historic design items. 

Opening Hours:
Tuesday - Sunday 10am - 6pm / Thursday 10 am - 8pm
Closed on Monday (also 1st May, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Easter Monday and Whit Monday) 

Admission:
Entry to the Shop and Café is free

Ticket (PDM)/ Single Ticket
adults 10,00 €, concessions 7,00 €, sunday 1,00 €
Free for under 12s

Elevators | There are 2 elevators plus a material elevator. The elevators make all galleries and facilities wheelchair accessible.
Folding chairs and wheelchairs | All galleries and facilities are wheelchair accessible. Ten wheelchairs are available at th box office free of charge. Please call in advance to reserve one if you will need a wheelchair during your visit.
Toilets| Toilets are adapted to the needs of the disabled and located close to the checkroom area. Nursing room | Yes
Strollers| Baby strollers are permitted at all times. 
Photography | Please note that no flash photography is permitted . For press or commercial photography enquiries contact press@die-neue-sammlung.de

GETTING HERE
Permanent Exhibition / Special Exhibition Pinakothek der Moderne | Barer Straße 40 | D – 80333 Munich | Tel +49 (0)89 / 2 38 05-360 

Tram 27 (Pinakothek)
2, 8 (Königsplatz or Theresienstraße)
3, 6 (Odeonsplatz or University)
Bus 100 (Museumslinie)
Parking space for handicapped persons gateway Gabelsbergerstrasse.
die-neue-sammlung.de