Balancing the object: the reinvention of Alessi

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The Italian household goods company Alessi is currently enjoying revived media coverage of its products. Currently celebrated, however, are Alessi products very different from those deemed iconic of the 1980s, such as Philippe Starck's 'Juicy Salif' lemon squeezer and Michael Graves's 'Kettle with a Whistling Bird'. Victims of their own success in expressing the aspirations and heightened design awareness of the 1980s, those products were rejected by the design cognoscenti at the turn of the decade. Alessi's recent 'Family Follows Fiction' range largely dispenses with the company's characteristic use of stainless steel and silver, instead using plastics. This places Alessi alongside companies such as Germany's Authentics and Denmark's Bodum in an interiors trend for colourful, 'designerly' pieces, and rides the wave of enthusiasm for plastics in the home. As this article shows, Alessi's awareness of changing trends, evienced through its continual theoretically-charged publishing rhetoric, has enabled the company to remain fashionable in two stylistically and philosophically opposed decades, and to be championed by media sources as the epitome of both.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-91
Publication statusPublished - 1997


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