Aldo Rossi "didn't believe that form follows
function" says Alberto Alessi

| 3 comments

Movie: next up in our series of exclusive video interviews with Alberto Alessi, the Alessi president says that Aldo Rossi's La Conica espresso maker defies the key principle of 20th century design that form should follow function.

Aldo Rossi portrait
Aldo Rossi

"[Aldo Rossi's] practice was completely different from the usual practice of industrial design as it is taught in schools," Alessi says. "In schools they teach students that form follows function, but Aldo didn't believe that."

La Conica espresso maker by Aldo Rossi for Alessi
La Conica espresso maker by Aldo Rossi for Alessi

The first product that Italian architect Rossi designed for Alessi was La Conica, a polished stainless-steel espresso maker with a cylindrical body and cone-shaped lid.



"I consider this [to be] one of our most poetical products," Alessi says. "The emotion and the expression of the art is much more important than the function."

La Conica espresso maker by Aldo Rossi for Alessi
La Conica espresso maker by Aldo Rossi for Alessi

Alessi says that he will try to work with designers to ensure that their products for Alessi are functional as well as beautiful, but is not always successful.

La Conica espresso maker by Aldo Rossi for Alessi
Sketch of La Conica by Aldo Rossi

"You don't need Alessi to have a well-functioning coffee maker – but we try," he says. "Sometimes a designer comes to us with a strong idea with some problems in terms of function. We try to modify, to convince the designer [to change the design] and sometimes we succeed and sometimes we do not."

La Cupola espresso maker by Aldo Rossi for Alessi
La Cupola espresso maker by Aldo Rossi for Alessi

In the case of Rossi, Alessi says that he convinced him to design a cheaper, more practical espresso maker to sell alongside the much more expensive La Conica.

La Cupola espresso maker by Aldo Rossi for Alessi
La Cupola sketch by Aldo Rossi

"He designed a second coffee maker, [which was] much more functional called La Cupola," he explains. "Being in cast aluminium it is four-times less expensive [than La Conica], so it sells much better."

Alberto Alessi portrait
Alberto Alessi. Copyright: Dezeen

This is one of a series of five movies with Alberto Alessi, in which he discusses some of the Italian brand's most iconic products. Look out for our movie about Michael Grave's kettle with a bird-shaped whistle tomorrow.

Watch all the movies in the series »

  • Matt

    Beauty and poetry are types of function; perhaps the most important of all.

  • Matthew Reece

    When form has so much beauty, who needs function?

  • http://www.facebook.com/chuck.anziulewicz PolishBear

    Put it this way: form does not have to follow function, especially when we’re talking about coffee pots. But there are countless beautiful examples of the “form follows function” maxim, one of my favorites being Eero Saarinen’s iconic passenger terminal at Dulles Airport outside of Washington, DC.