Alessi Occasional Objects: Virgil Abloh’s take on cutlery
Best Cross Pollination: Alessi's cutlery by the late designer Virgil Abloh, in collaboration with his London studio Alaska Alaska, is awarded at the Wallpaper* Design Awards 2023
Alessi unveils a new project by Virgil Abloh, offering a new take on traditional cutlery, in collaboration with his London-based design studio Alaska Alaska. Presented for the first time at Fuorisalone 2022, through a special installation designed by Studio Temp, the project also marks a new era for the Italian company, which celebrated its centenary in 2021 and is now beginning a new chapter of its design history.
Virgil Abloh cutlery: an ‘almost brutalist’ take on a classic tool
When we spoke with Alberto Alessi on the occasion of the company's 100-year anniversary, he told us about his family's factory in the 1970s, specialising in metal manufacturing. When Abloh visited the Alessi manufacturing facilities, that's what caught his eye. 'I found that Virgil had a completely different way to look at things and objects,’ recalls Alberto Alessi.
‘So when he looked at our world, the world of Alessi, it was through the eyes of one who loved the idea of a mechanical workshop – I remember that the first reference he showed me was a wrench – very far from the elegance of what we habitually think of as good design. It was almost brutalist. I found this very interesting, as for us it was a new approach. Alas, we had very little time to make our collaboration with Virgil, but I am so glad we did.’
The set – essentially comprising a stainless steel spoon, fork and knife, held together by a carabiner – features geometric forms and an aesthetic closer to that of work tools than of table settings. It's the first of a series of ‘Occasional Objects’, which will be joined by more pieces, including ceramics, tableware and a new interpretation by Abloh of an Alessi classic.
Despite his disruptive approach, Abloh was a fan of Alessi's work and the calibre of designers the company has worked with over the years (in the world of cutlery alone, the company has worked with more than 20 designers and practices, including Achille Castiglioni, Ettore Sottsass, Marcel Wanders and Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas).
‘Virgil thought of Alessi because as a brand it’s best in class, not only in terms of its design history, but also because of the calibre of the artists and designers it has worked with in the past. He wanted his name to be among such great company,’ says Tawanda Chiweshe, creative director of Alaska Alaska.
Concludes Alessi: 'Alessi today is the result of the collaborations we have done with so many design minds, like Sottsass, Starck and Castiglioni. Each of them has left an important mark on the Alessi practice and contributed to what the company has become. Virgil Abloh is the latest name to add to that list, and I cannot think of anyone better to express our desire to remain relevant and contemporary for today’s and future generations.’
The ‘Occasional Objects’ collection by Virgil Abloh was presented as part of ’Alessi 100-001’, a special exhibition celebrating the company’s past and future, held at Galleria Manzoni from 7 – 12 June 2022
Via Manzoni 40-42
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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