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The Alessi booth is always a welcome sight at any given design show or exhibition, for both the fun products on display and the friendly folks behind the brand. We caught up with President Alessio Alessi on multiple occasions last year: first in Miami (along with his son Giovanni) and at last year's Housewares Show a few months later.
This time around, we went for a good ol' fashioned sit-down interview with Alessio at McCormick Place, where he gladly explained their latest collection.
Core77: Hi Alessio. How's it going?
Alessio Alessi: It's good, thank you.
How long are you here?
[Just for two days]—I came on Friday, and I leave today.
But it is very interesting for me, because we just had a long period of different exhibitions in Europe, starting in January, in Paris, then Milan and in Frankfurt. And now this one in the U.S. is very important for me, to see the difference in the kind of exhibitions.
"Mu" silverware by 2013 Pritzker Prize-winning architect Toyo Ito - the hexagonal handles refer to Ito design for the Museum of Architecture, while the spoon refers to a ginkgo leaf
How does this [the Housewares Show] compare to, say, Ambiente in Frankfurt?
It's quite different, yes. There are a lot more typologies shown at Ambiente than here. Here it seems more specialized in kitchen.
So what does Alessi have in store for us this year?
We are launching a line of small furniture, and this is a project? for the future also, to ... this line of furniture [that we are .
We are starting a new project, and we hope to present it [at] the next Salone de Mobile in Italy, but not for this year—in 2014.
You have to keep in mind that when we realize a new idea from the design, it takes a long time to become a reality of the object—an average of two years. At this moment, we have selected the original designs and we are working on how to produce it.
More on the "Joy N.1" bowl below...
And the two-year timeline, is that just for furniture, or housewares as well?
This is an average. We have some objects that are faster, some that are slower...
It depends if you have the manufacturing facilities in place, or if you have to come up with a new method...?
All of the stainless steel here is produced by us in Italy, at our headquarters. But there are some instances, like the new [Joy n.1] bowl that is a completely new technology for us—even though it's a basket, and it's stainless steel, and it's done in our own factory, the timing for the particular project, it's much longer because it's a new process within our technology.
Speaking of the new bowl, can you just go through some of the new products you have?
Well, this is a duck timer... let me see if it works... (fidgets with timer for a moment, holds it as it goes off a second later with a tinny yet urgent quack sound). It is a simple kitchen timer.
Then we have this series of pots and pans, designed by Marcel Wanders. It's a new design in our series of pots and pans—it's very interesting for us, because Marcel [designs] the decorations on the bottom, on the handles, [on the lid]...
Here we have two examples of what we name as 'small furniture,' that we anticipate this year. This is a side table... with a basket where you can put your magazines or what you want. You could also put ice [in it], as in a cooler or wine bucket.
And this is a bigger box, which can also be used for magazines on the table. (Alessio's colleagues chimed in that "we heard that this is great for stores, [for] sweaters or shirts... or for towels in the bathroom, by the poolside... even by a fireplace [for logs].)
The "Joy N. 1" by Claudio Raimondo
This is an interesting one for us, basket—it's not by a designer but from a [professor of colors and materials]. So she applied a new invention that, as you can see, can play with the light...
And you developed the new manufacturing method for this piece?
Yes, exactly. The project took a long time to finalize, but it's interesting for Alessi, because it's not a (real) designer—it's somebody who is more focused on the colors and finish of the surface.
The "Kastor" pencil sharpener was designed by Rodrigo Torres
So you've mentioned that you're working on projects for next year's Salone—what about the Salone this year?
Well, we will be introducing the new items you see here... [as well as a new] collaboration. This is another one of Alessi's activities, working with other companies that on products that we are not able to produce. We participate in the design of the product and license the brand [as with the watches].
This year, for the Salone, we will show a new collection of eyeglasses.
Be on the lookout for the forthcoming collection of Alessi eyewear, which will be unveiled in just a few weeks!