Here's maybe the last thing I expected to find being launched at the Home and Housewares Show: a kettle designed by Ettore Sottsass for Bodum in 1986, during the Memphis period. Jørgen Bodum—the co-owner of Bodum and son of company founder Peter Bodum—worked with Sottsass Associates on the design, and shows it off for us below, pointing out a few distinctly Memphis moments, and the manufacturing problem that kept this off the shelves until now.
According to Jørgen, the kettle had been designed as part of a line of Bodum electrics, but was not put into production with the rest because of an issue with the stainless steel spout—the plastic expands faster than the metal, creating cracking and breakage. Now, in 2010, they are finally able to circumvent the problem (how, I don't know, Jørgen ony revealed that they "found a factory that could do it") and the kettle is being launched alongside e-Bodum, their newest line of electric appliances, expanded to non-coffee and tea items.
This appliance line is a first in Bodum's recent history, but as mentioned above, they've been in Bodum's past before. Similarly, color: though the company introduced color at last year's Home and Housewares Show, they also used color back in the 1960s. On this, Jørgen pointed out, "Colors come and go. There are children of stainless steel, then children of color."
e-Bodum line of household electrics, including a juicer, drip coffee maker, hand mixer, and coffee grinder.
A textile pattern by Nathalie du Pasquier.
I also learned that Bodum once had a textile line, designed by another Memphis member, Nathalie Du Pasquier. Unfortunately, Jørgen said it didn't do very well and eventually closed. Here's hoping that the textile line will go the way of the Ettore kettle and the new line of electrics and relaunch in the next year or two.
Though I'm a fan, I know that projects by Memphis can seem horrifically 80s to many. Not so with this kettle—though the design has not changed, it doesn't feel nostalgic. This may be a testament to Sottsass' design and Bodum's vision, or a signal that we Memphis never really left us.
The Ettore kettle is being marketed in Sottsass' prized pastels, but they're also available in the full range of Bodum colors: deep purple included.
A few more shots from the show follow.
Jørgen Bodum with the Ettore kettle, in purple.
The now resolved stainless steel and plastic detail.
Lisa is dedicated to promoting the American contemporary design scene. She keeps herself busy as the co-founder of the Object Design League, an association of independent designers in Chicago, and design practice Smith&Linder, both co-founded with Caroline Linder. She also teaches foundation research studios at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.