Art meets tableware

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Art meets tableware

Fancy introducing kitchen, bath and living accessories with innovative Italian craftsmanship to your home? Matteo Alessi has the answer…

By Davina Raisinghani (

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Published: Thu 28 Apr 2011, 11:41 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 6:04 AM

What brings you to Dubai?

I’m here for two main reasons – one is that the Alessi brand is opening a personal shopping space here in the Bloomingdale’s Dubai Home Store and the other is, we’re launching a small exhibition of a 22-piece set called the ‘Tea & Coffee Towers’. We asked 22 famous architects that have never designed objects to design tea and coffee collections for us.

Is that something Alessi is famous for back home in Italy, combining techniques from different fields?

Absolutely. As part of our strategy we try to bring influence from other art fields to our products. When we were designing patterns for porcelain we asked artist Alessandro Mendini to design a vase and had 100 different artists decorate it – from sculptors to painters, to musicians, everyone was involved.

And who is the brand’s quintessential client?

We target people who are design enthusiasts. But our price range caters to almost everyone – we have products ranging from $10 to $50,000. We have simple, playful and immediate products that catch your fancy right away and some that take a while to understand. It’s up to you whether you want to spend your x amount of money on a whole dinner set or a lemon squeezer. In terms of age also, we keep our range as wide as possible.

So it’s all about innovation at Alessi?

Yes. We’ve got more than 3,500 products in our catalogue created by more than 200 designers from all over the world. We want our catalogue to be more an encyclopaedia of design rather than just a simple catalogue. We consider ourselves mediators between the world of applied art and the market. We believe in giving free reign to our designers.

What’s new in Alessi stores right now?

One of the things you’ll notice in our latest collection is that for the first time in years we’re launching a set in which not a single piece is made of plastic – which helps you achieve shapes, colours and textures that you can’t achieve with metal. We’re working on adding to our line of dinnerware and flatware.

The trend of registering for gifts is finally taking off in Dubai – is that something your brand will offer?

We are one of the few companies where you can make your entire wedding list at just one place. And we offer assisted buying, a concept that we’re hoping to eventually introduce in our Dubai outlet.

What are the brand’s future plans?

This year we’re celebrating our 90th anniversary. And we want to continue promoting quality and creativity. Nowadays design is abused; it is used more as a spice in the recipe rather than one of the key elements. Sometimes companies just launch products and stamp on an important name on them to sell them. We want to continue playing the role we are right now.

So does Alessi help out young, emerging designers?

We do a lot of workshops with up and coming designers. We even accept recommendations of fresh talent from our friends and co-workers in other fields. We don’t really care about the name because our brand doesn’t need a name to sell a product. Just to give you an example, one of our bestselling products was created by this young student who came to one of our trade shows with a prototype. We saw a lot of potential in it.

Can Dubai-based designers come to you with their designs as well?

Yes, even Dubai-based designers can contact us through our website. Just don’t expect a quick answer because looking through everything properly and seriously takes time.

The ‘Tea & Coffee Towers’

Alessi’s most important project in recent times has been the ‘Tea & Coffee Towers’ concept, presenting twenty-two tea and coffee sets, each one uniquely designed by an internationally renowned architect. This has been previewed at Next, 8. Mostra Internazionale di Architettura at the Venice Biennale and presented at the Milan Triennale before being brought to Dubai.

Alessi’s designers

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, Massimo Morozzi, Philippe Starck, Stefano Giovannoni, Guido Venturini, Enzo Mari, Jasper Morrison, Mark Newson, Ron Arad and Alessandro Mendini, who has also been design consultant at the company since 1979.

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