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Alessi + Sottsass: Iconic Design in the Late 1970s
By Roy Otwell
8/15/2017 1:38:00 PM

 

Ettore Sottsass (1917 – 2007) would have turned 100 this year. In honor of this occasion, a number of museums and galleries have mounted retrospectives that explore Sottsass’ illustrious career over five decades as both an architect and product designer. Many of Sottsass’ designs are still in production for several manufacturers that Switch Modern represents – Alessi, BD Barcelona, Bitossi, Glas Italia, Kartell, and Zanotta. Throughout the remainder of the year, we thought our blog would be a great medium with which to explore various aspects of the objects developed for each of these brands. Today, we highlight the early part of Sottsass’ collaboration with Alessi in the late 1970s.

Along with several architects and designers in the 1970s – Franco Sargiani + Eija Helander, Alessandro Mendini, Richard Sapper, Riccardo Dalisi – Sottsass helped transform this Italian stainless steel manufacturer into Alberto Alessi’s vision of a “Design Factory.” While Sottsass started producing objects with Alessi in the 1970s, he continued to develop tabletop designs for Alessi in porcelain, wood, plastic, and metal throughout the 1980s and 1990s. His designs from the late 1970s are still in production today and are now considered icons.

 

1978: Sottsass develops an extraordinary range of tableware accessories – each piece like a small piece of architecture. The designer’s oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper shakers all feature a cylindrical form in thick, clear glass with caps in polished stainless steel akin to domes. In addition to the hugely popular 5070 set, Sottsass also created the 5071 parmesan cheese cellar and 5073 condiment set. Each of the components with each of these sets is also available separately – well-weighted cradle bases in polished stainless steel were developed for all of the sets allowing the user to easily move/present/place the group on a surface.

 

1979: In conjunction with Alberto Gozzi, Sottsass undertakes Alessi’s Programma 5 that carefully considers tools associated with preparing and serving cocktails, wine, and champagne. All of the resulting objects become some of the most popular barware pieces that Alessi produces. The forms of the various ice buckets are striking in their simplicity… the 5051 was designed for ice; the 5052 (available in two sizes) was designed to function as a wine or champagne cooler. While these can be used independently, they become uber-luxe when paired with the 5059 stand – a profoundly elegant piece that can be used adjacent to a table – moreover, in any interior where you would like to have easy access to an open bottle of champagne. Objects for the bar were also developed – the 5050 Boston cocktail shaker, 5053 strainer, 5054 stirrer, and 5055 ice tongs. Not only is each piece a beautiful object; each functions perfectly. The two-piece 5050 Boston shaker features a stainless base with a glass repository that is inverted to snugly fit within the base when shaking a cocktail. Using this piece is profoundly sensorial – not only does the transparent glass reveal the colors of the various liquors and mixers, the varying sounds of ice striking the stainless and glass creates a “symphony” in anticipation of that delicious libation. Bottle/drink coasters and a round tray in two sizes completed Programma 5.

We hope that you’ll check out all of the amazing Sottsass designs for Alessi that we show and stock in our Atlanta Alessi store – and, of course, all are also available at switchmodern.com. Stay tuned for additional blogs about Ettore Sottsass’ work for several other manufacturers.




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Categories: Accessories Design, Architecture + Design, Design Wise, Furniture
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