Iconic Italian design brand Alessi is celebrating its centennial with an exhibition titled, Alessi 100-001, curated as an exploration of the company’s past, present and future. Staged inside Milan’s Galleria Manzoni, the exhibition is creatively separated into two segments, as indicated by the name Alessi 100-001: the 100 represents the company’s previous century and its 12 core values through its archival selection of historical prototypes displayed across 12 different rooms, all curated by designer Michele Di Lucchi’s international practice, AMDL Circle, while the 001 represents the company’s first project for its next 100 years, conceived by the late designer, Virgil Abloh. In the previous 12 months leading up to the exhibition, 12 unpublished products were released as a special edition range representing the brand’s 12 core values. These 12 products have also been showcased for the first time through various unique installations.
Established in 1921, this Dream Factory, as the company’s current President Alberto Alessi calls it, focuses on transforming the landscape of our homes with its collection of products that range from tableware, cooking utensils, watches, furnishing accessories, lights to various other small domestic appliances. Alessi strives to act as a bridge between international creativity and the public, society, and market, transforming these creative expressions into tangible items that meet people’s dreams and imaginations. Recently, in an exclusive conversation with STIR, Alberto Alessi mentioned the genesis of the company’s 12 pivotal values as the product of “progressive acquisition of consciousness” that he received from talking, discussing and working with his design maestros – people like Alessandro Mendini, Aldo Rossi, Achille Castiglioni, and Richard Sapper, to name a few.
The company’s journey from its inception to the present is exhibited across 12 different rooms, collectively described as a corridor of curiosities by Alberto Alessi. Each of these rooms represents Alessi’s core principles: Industrial Craftsmanship, Art, Paradox, Beyond, Hybridization, Research Lab, Irony, Borderline, Poetry, Thingness, Transgression, and Futurespective. Each room is conceived as a space with its own distinct expression, personality, and narrative, forcing the viewers to go beyond their own thinking to spot the various designs and products corresponding to each value.
The Industrial Craftsmanship room is staged as a mini factory, while the Research Lab is an exquisite display of 30 different coffee makers and pots from the archival collection. The Poetry room takes a distinct performative twist with a live performance by an actor, while the Paradox room is filled with toilet rolls with gold-lined walls and a staircase, a golden reproduction of Stefano Giovannoni’s 1992 Merdolino toilet brush. Every space not only displays Alessi’s products, but also compels the observer to consider and investigate the brand’s underlying values.
Everyday objects are hybridized yet separated through glass panels from Alessi’s products including Aldo Rossi-designed La Cubica cooking pot in the Transgression room, whereas the Borderline room showcases a selection of products of the past that have pushed the boundaries of design possibilities. In another room that represents Thingness – the quality of finding the true essence of an object by eliminating the superfluous – Enzo Mari’s Farella Nutcracker sits on top of a mound of cracked walnuts in space. In the room of Irony, a curling pitch is designed alongside the Bulbul Kettle, designed by Castiglioni, the late Italian designer, in 1995.
The exhibition seamlessly transitions from its journey of the past to its vision for the future, as Alberto Alessi says, “Because the past only interests me insofar as it can inform what we will do tomorrow.” The 001 segment showcases a cutlery set named ‘Occasional Object’, designed by Abloh, the celebrated late American fashion designer, and his multidisciplinary studio, Alaska Alaska. The set, unveiled in a striking green room, features a spoon, a fork, and a knife that can be fastened or clipped together with a carabiner. The stainless-steel design is utilitarian and functional, allowing it to create alternate table settings; it can be used on the go, or even worn on the body. Every piece of the design was displayed against a backdrop resembling a green screen, coupled with an Instagram filter for visitor’s virtual experience, to mark this as the first project in the brand’s next 100 years of existence. Alessi’s 001 segment heralds the start of a new age of innovation, reflecting the brand’s ambition to never stand still and never stop dreaming.
Overall, the exhibition showcases Alessi’s collaborations with over 300 designers and architects, illustrating how the company has always brought a change in the household landscape and still continues to use its creativity, ambition and capacity to evolve it for its users. With this one-of-a-kind display, Alessi looks forward to its next 100 years of exploration and experimentation while proudly honoring its legacy. Following the recent conclusion of Milan Design Week, the exhibition will remain on view till June 26 in Milan’s Galleria Manzoni, post which it will be traveling to various cities and design platforms across the world.
STIR takes you on a Milanese sojourn! Experience Salone del Mobile and all the design districts – 5vie, Brera, Fuorisalone, Isola, Zona Tortona, and Durini – with us. STIR’s coverage of Milan Design Week 2022, Meanwhile in Milan showcases the best exhibits, moods, studios, events, and folks to look out for. We are also excited to announce our very own STIR press booth at Salone del Mobile – Hall 5/7 S.14, Fiera Milano RHO.