One of Italy’s leading brands, Alessi is synonymous throughout the globe for their design-led objects created in collaboration with many of the world’s best designers. Since its foundation in 1921, Alessi have been renowned for their cold working of metals using skilled traditions that are still kept alive today by the workers at the Crusinallo plant in Omegna. Continually standing out from the crowd for their high quality products, they have been one of the leading factories of Italian design for generations; The LuxPad casts a look over the history of Alessi…
Founded as a workshop for the processing of brass and nickel silver sheet metal, Alessi was created by Giovanni Alessi whose obsession with high quality, finely crafted work has remained the brand’s ethos to this day. Inspired by the principles of the most prestigious household product manufacturers hailing from Austria and England, Giovanni quickly installed these traditional values in his own creations and his nickel, chrome and silver plate items soon became well known for their perfect finishes and skilled craftsmanship.
In the 1950s, Alessi moved from artisanal craftsmanship using soft metals to mass production with the introduction of stainless steel. During this period Alessi specialized in creating professional equipment for hotels, restaurants and bars and it was at this time that Giovanni’s sons Carlo and Ettore Alessi became general manger and head of the technical office which strengthened the design-based identity of the business. Under the brothers’ stewardship, Alessi created a range of industrial designs such as the steel wire baskets and fruit bowls. It was also at this time that the brand branched into designer collaborations with top names such as Luigi Massoni and Carlo Mazzeri.
Alberto Alessi is the third generation of the family to take over the business and was responsible for transforming the brand again in the 1970s, this time driven by a simple yet revolutionary intuition that the bond between people and objects are not simply shaped by functionality. All people have other equally important and deep-rooted needs that form the basis for their relationship with the things around them, such as poetry, emotions, the communication of their identity and values. Because of this, skilled designers are professionals who have the ability to create functional objects that are capable of capturing the public’s imagination, an idea that Alessi has continually drawn from with their collaborations over the years. The 1970s saw partnerships with Ettore Sottsass, Richard Sapper, Michael Graves and Philippe Starck to name a small few, which helped to transform Alessi into the Factory of Design envisaged by Alberto.
In the 1990s the decision was made to explore the use of new materials for the brand. Whilst still retaining Alessi’s signature stainless steel design, the brand began to manufacture new collections in wood, ceramic and glass adding a new dimension to their offering and cementing the company as a design leader of the world. The 21st century has seen the brand team with more contemporary designers including David Chipperfield, Wiel Arets, Yan Kaplicky and the late Zaha Hadid. These new products have enforced Alessi’s eclectic character. The brand’s ability to work with new designers of different nationalities, ages, backgrounds and design approaches is simultaneously reflected in the range of objects which are not only unique in material and type, but also through the design language which radiates from each piece.