Virgil Abloh Securities reimagines Alessi kettle by Michael Graves and it’s a slam dunk

Virgil Abloh Securities and Alessi create a new edition of Michael Graves’ classic kettle, offering a new point of view on a contemporary design icon

Virgil Abloh Alessi 3909 Kettle
Virgil Abloh Alessi ‘3909’ kettle
(Image credit: Leonardo Scotti)

Virgil Abloh Securities and Alessi released a new product under their partnership, following on from the launch of the Alessi Occasional Objects cutlery set during Fuorisalone 2022. Now working together on an update of Michael Graves’ ‘9093’ kettle from 1985, Alessi and Abloh’s creative studio Alaska Alaska offer a new interpretation of the postmodern design. 

Featuring an instantly recognisable bird whistle, the original kettle has become one of Alessi’s most iconic products. In its new version, released as a limited and numbered edition of 9,999 pieces and with a rejigged name, the new ‘3909’ kettle features a distinctive purple handle and the stylised figure of a basketball player, immortalised mid-dunk, to replace the original bird whistle.

‘Taking cues from Michael Graves’ original approach to the “9093” kettle by mixing and introducing various influences into the design process, the “3909” kettle references basketball and introduces an iconic silhouette with global resonance into the design outcome,’ reads a statement by Alaska Alaska. ‘This design gesture follows aspects of Virgil's approach specific to referencing different frames of reference often overlooked within the established design culture.’

Virgil Abloh Alessi Kettle on basketball court, with basketball player stopper in the spout

(Image credit: Leonardo Scotti)

The newly reissued kettle is the latest step in Alessi’s evolution as a brand that both represents the history of contemporary design while at the same time conversing with a young generation of design consumers. The ‘3909’ merges these worlds, the iconic silhouette by Graves reinterpreted with contemporary icons combining culture, sport and design history.

It is a trajectory that is explained well by Alberto Alessi, who worked closely with Abloh in his final years to bring this collaboration to life: ‘After discussions with Virgil Abloh about how we could work together, we understood that his wish to reinterpret some of Alessi’s icons was a challenging idea, and appropriate to the times – and that to start with the Graves kettle would be the best way,’ he explains ‘This was because Virgil’s desire to create “popular” products was similar to the dream Michael Graves had when he told me in the 1980s that his aim was “to create a new American design”.

‘Virgil had a completely different way to look at things and objects. So when he looked at the world of Alessi, it was through the eyes of one who loved the idea of a mechanical workshop, very far from the elegance of what we habitually think of as good design. I found this very interesting, as for us it was a new approach.’

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.

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