The Alessi company was founded by Giovanni Alessi in 1921 at Omegna, a village on Lake Orta.
During the 1920s and 30s, tableware and household objects were made at his workshop and have become part of the collective memory of generations of Italians.
Design (in the modern sense of the word) first appeared at the end of the 1930s when Giovanni’s eldest son, Carlo, industrial designer, joined the company. He became the author of most of the objects that appeared in the catalogue between the mid 30s and 1945, the year when his last design project was presented: the ‘Bombé’tea and coffee service, one of the archetypes of the first era of Italian design.
In the 50s, Carlo began to collaborate with freelance designers such as Carlo Mazzeri, Luigi Massoni and Anselmo Vitale; the authors behind numerous highly successful projects such as the‘870’ cocktail shaker (1957).
In 1970, Carlo placed his eldest son, Alberto, in the company and gradually handed responsibility for design management over to him. Thanks to its continuing creativity and fresh approach, Alessi has been able to develop a policy of design excellence which has made it one of the leading internationally renowned Italian Design Factories.
One of Alessi’s special features is its ability to reconcile typically industrial needs (in terms of operations and products) with a tendency (at intellectual and spiritual level) to consider itself more as a ‘research laboratory in the field of the applied arts’. This is what inspires Alessi’s tireless research and experimentation which, over the last few years, has led it to use new materials and new technologies.
The core business (the production of items by metal presswork) amounting to over 7,500 items a day – alland still producedat the Crusinallo factory.
Over the years, Alessi has produced objects created by more than two hundred designers. These historic designers include: Ettore Sottsass, Richard Sapper, Achille Castiglioni, Aldo Rossi, Michael Graves, Philippe Starck, Stefano Giovannoni, Guido Venturini, Enzo Mari, Jasper Morrison, the Campana Brothers, David Chipperfield, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Marcel Wanders…and Alessandro Mendini, who has also been design consultant at the company since 1979.
The millennium has witnessed extensive new developments at Alessi. Collaborations have been formed with other companies in manufacturing contexts very different from Alessi’s original dedication to small objects for the home and kitchen. From the richest collection of wristwatches till the most complete bathroom scenario.
The “(Un)Forbidden City” is Alessi’s last metaproject after the two historical ones the “Tea & Coffee Piazza” launched in 1983 and 2003 “Tea & Coffee Towers”. Aimed at exploring the potential of Chinese design in terms of domestic objects, it was launched internationally during the 2011 Beijing Design Week.
In 2012 a new chapter dedicated to Lighting was launched in the Alessi Encyclopaedia increasing theAlessi Living Accessories catalogue. A parallel world to table and kitchen brings together projects from different typological areas, such as the Folding chair “Piana” designed by David Chipperfield and theTable/tray “Op-la” by Jasper Morrison.