Alessi - Corporate History

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Italian Design Tradition Since 1921

The Alessi company was born in Italy in 1921 - the founding year of the foundry and metal workshop by Giovanni Alessi Anghini. Giovanni’s son Carlo entered the company as designer in 1932. The company Alessi grew by means of industrially made artwork at that time.

International hotels, restaurants and airlines were equipped with sophisticated metal products, such as breadboxes, sugar pots and fruit bowls already in the 50s. That was the time when designs, such as the bread basket 826 (1948) or the sugar pot 104 (1956) emerged, considered exemplary design classics today.

Carlo Alessi became the manager of the company in 1945 and designed his most famous coffee service Bombé in the same year. Alessi started to use stainless steel as production material because of the lack of nickel silver and brass as well as because of increasing prices of those materials, employing namely designers in order to remain competitive.

Carlo’s son Alberto Alessi entered the family company in 1970. His two basic principles were: “There is not a product, which couldn’t be improved with design”, and “design quality has nothing to do with the price and surely nothing to do with the typology of the object”.

Alessi started to work at different projects in the 70s. Limited editions of signed internationally famous designer’s and architect’s pieces, such as Ettore Sottsass and Richard Sapper, were the result.

Alessi owns the production lines Officina Alessi, wich presented the experimental design Alberto or the project “Tea and Coffee Piazza”, with eleven renowned architects such as Robert Venturi, Charles Jencks, Hans Hollein or Richard Meier designing tea and coffee services in limited editions. Alessi got international recognition as one of the leading representatives of postmodern design for the initially for a competition made “Tea and Coffee Piazza” – project of the “Architectur en miniature”.

While Officina Alessi concentrated on limited small series of metal, the focus of the “Twergi” label – founded in the 80s – laid on household goods out of wood. The collection “Family follows fiction” comprises the typical playful plastic accessories, such as the bulky cookies jar Mary Biscuit by Stefano Giovannoni or the corkscrew Anna G by Alessandro Mendini.

Alessi manufactured more than 2,850 products along the company’s history, made by more than 200 designers. Aldo Rossi, Michael Graves, Philippe Starck and Alessandro Mendini are related tot he company’s name among others. Exceptional design products out of the Alessi production are the water boiler by Michael Graves (1985) and Richard Sapper (1983) as well as the legendary and undisputed citrus press “Juicy Salif” by Philippe Starck (1989).

Alberto Alessi sees the boldness and radicalism of some Alessi designs as encouraging, and not as bad things for the business: “only when the time comes that we don’t cause one annual fiasco with some of our designs, we know that we fell into a shallow ‘all kinds of’“.