Domus: How does the wall-clock type fit into the Alessi catalogue?
Alberto Alessi: Really, I should answer the question: what use is a clock. You could say there is no need for one to measure time anymore today because other means are far more commonly used now than clocks but wall clocks continue to exist and this is a great mystery. It is probably linked – and this is the common denominator with the rest of the Alessi business – to what might be described as the decorative component of objects. We need certain objects to help us inject a little fantasy into the home, a bit of our imagination or a bit of the designer’s imagination that becomes out own. Just like a coffeepot, a kettle or a corkscrew, it is the same with a clock. I must add – maybe because I only produce these and not cell phones which provide countless functions – that reading the time on these objects seems more magical and a ritual. It is more meaningful.
Domus: What did you ask of the designers?
Alberto Alessi: As usual, we asked them to express their fantasy in the Alessi context, which is a multilingual context in the sense that designers express themselves in very different languages. The fact that it is this particular five is the result of a selection we made at the start of search, designers who are currently close to Alessi. So, some of the designers are Alessi regulars such as Iacchetti and Mario Trimarchi; there is one relatively new designer, Abi Alice; and two designers, Studio Job and Daniel Libeskind, are making their debut in the Alessi catalogue.
Domus: How recognisable must the Alessi brand be in such a project and how much space can you allocate to the designer’s personality?
Alberto Alessi: This is not a great problem in the case of Italian design factories, of which Alessi is an example and that are an industrial model in their own right, totally different from factories with mass productions. Italian design factories are research laboratories working in the field of design – which used to be called applied arts – so we must, by definition, give as much room as possible to the identity of the designers we work with. Our strong point, what enables us to exist and expand worldwide is the fact that no other place has an industrial culture that allows designers to, let us also say freely, express their identity. This does not mean there is not a corporate identity but, precisely because we are research laboratories, it is in our nature to allow the designers who work with us freedom of expression. In my – oh dear – 50+ years in the business I have never seen it as a problem.
12–17 April 2016
Via Manzoni 12-14, Milan