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History1 1280X720

1921

LA MANIFATTURA FAO

FAO’s first products are inspired by the principles laid down by the most prestigious early-20th century producers of household articles, particularly companies from Austria and England. Giovanni has a real obsession with quality and finely crafted work. His copper, brass and nickel silver products, subsequently nickel-, chrome- or silver-plated, soon become well known for their perfect finishes and consummate craftsmanship. In 1932 Carlo Alessi, Giovanni’s eldest son, joins the company as a very young man. He goes on to design the majority of the objects produced between the mid-1930s and 1945.

History2

1945

FROM CRAFTSMANSHIP TO MASS PRODUCTION

During the 1950s the company gradually replaces soft metals with stainless steel, marking the transition from artisanal craftsmanship to mass production. In this period the company specialises in creating professional equipment for hotels, restaurants and bars. Carlo Alessi, eldest son of the founder, becomes General Manager. His brother Ettore, who join the company in 1945, become Head of the Technical Office, strengthening the design-based identity of the business. His stewardship sees the creation of a number of “industrial designs”, such as the steel wire baskets and fruit bowls. Under Ettore ALFRA also begins partnerships with external designers such as Luigi Massoni, Carlo Mazzeri and Anselmo Vitale.

History3 768X432

1970

TOWARDS THE DESIGN FACTORY

Alberto is driven by a simple yet revolutionary intuition that the bond between people and objects is not simply shaped by functionality. Men and women have other equally important and deep-rooted needs that form the basis for their relationship with the things they use, such as poetry, emotions, the communication of their identity, their values... Designers are professionals who create functional objects that are capable of capturing the public’s imagination.

Alberto Alessi has described his career as like a series of meetings that have enabled him to flesh out and go beneath the surface of his original intuition. Franco Sargiani, Ettore Sottsass, Richard Sapper, Achille Castiglioni, Alessandro Mendini, Aldo Rossi, Michael Graves and Philippe Starck were the “meetings” which, in the 1970s and 1980s, helped transform the company into the Factory of Design envisaged by Alberto.

History4

1980

POST-MODERN PERIOD

The operation stems from a desire to explore the world of international design in order to identify new talents who can rewrite the design language of household goods. “Tea & Coffee Piazza” enjoys considerable public and critical acclaim, finally confirming Alessi’s status as one of the Factories of Italian Design. The project also leads to the discovery of two talented new designers: Aldo Rossi and Michael Graves.

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1990

THE ALESSI STUDY CENTRE

The CSA has been created to carry out a dual mission: to develop theoretical contributions to issues related to the object and to coordinate the work that Alberto Alessi sought to begin with the young designers. Managed by Laura Polinoro, for a decade the CSA operate mainly runs design workshops (seminars), organised in association with universities and schools, and with groups of designers.

The decision to use materials other than steel is another important decision that shapes the decade. The company opens to plastic; to wood in 1989 with the Twergi brand; and to glass, porcelain and then ceramics in 1992 with the Tendentse brand and the “100% Make up” vase project.

History6 1280X720

2000

ECLECTICISM

The first decade of the 21st century begins with the presentation of the “Tea & Coffee Towers” project, a successor to Alessi’s “Tea & Coffee Piazza” in 1983. This initiative launches a new series of partnerships that spawn genuine mass products, such as those by David Chipperfield, Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas, Toyo Ito, SANAA, Wiel Arets and Yan Kaplicky. In this decade Alessi’s products reflect the “eclectic” character that had begun to emerge with greater insistence in the second half of the 1990s. The company’s ability to work with new designers - of different nationalities, ages, backgrounds and design approaches - simultaneously is reflected in a collection of objects that are not only different from each other in terms of material or type but also, more profoundly, for their “design language”.

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