Alessi to launch special edition of kettle by "design hero" Michael Graves

Alberto Alessi has paid tribute to Postmodernist architect and designer Michael Graves, who died yesterday, and revealed plans for a special edition of his best-selling 9093 kettle (pictured).

In a letter sent to the American architect's studio in Princeton, the head of Italian kitchenware brand Alessi revealed plans for a 30th anniversary edition of the kettle, adding that the news of Graves' death was "difficult to believe".

"The last time we met in Philadelphia, even in a wheelchair, Michael was so energetic," said Alessi.

"Michael, as you well know, has been for Alessi one of the leading authors and design heroes, and for me, personally, one of my most important maestros. I'll never forget his contribution to our history."

Graves, who died suddenly at home on Wednesday aged 80, had a long-standing relationship with Alessi's Italian homeware brand. His 9093 kettle, first produced in 1985, was the brand's bestseller for 15 years and remains in its top 10.

In September, Alessi will release a new edition of the kettle to mark its 30th year of production. Graves had been working on the design, which will be produced in limited numbers, before he died.

Michael Graves
Michael Graves

"We were thinking to organise something special for the events we are preparing around the Michael-Alessi collaboration for 2015 and the new project with Michael that we will unveil shortly: the Tea Rex Kettle!" said Alessi.

The original design featured a conical stainless-steel body with a plastic bird-shaped whistle at the end of the spout.

The new version will have an unspecified adaptation, but the name suggests that it may be dinosaur-related.

In an interview with Dezeen last year, Alessi revealed that Graves and Italian designer Aldo Rossi were originally among a group of architects invited to create a limited-edition silver tea set for the brand. The two went on to create mass-produced designs.

Limited edition silver tea and coffee set by Michael Graves for Alessi
Limited edition silver tea and coffee set by Michael Graves for Alessi

"In Italian tradition, design is a son of architecture," said Alessi. "All good designers, almost without exception, are first architects in Italy. We invited these 11 architects, then selected Aldo Rossi and Michael Graves, understanding that they were extremely interested in trying real industrial design, meaning products made for the masses."

"[Graves'] wish was to devote half of his career to do industrial design," he said. "In the end it proved not to be right, he continued to be mostly an architect."

Graves was born in 1934 in Indianapolis, and set up his architectural practice in Princeton in 1964. He was a member of the New York Five, a group of five prominent, Modernism-inspired architects working in the city in the late 1960s.

His best known projects include his kitchenware for Alessi, and the Portland Public Services Building in Portland, Oregon – a seminal piece of Postmodern architecture that was recently saved from demolition.

Michael Graves' Portland Building faces threat of demolition
The Portland Building

He became a member of the Postmodern Memphis movement in the 1980s. In 2013, Graves was appointed as an architecture advisor to the US government by president Barack Obama.

Graves died of natural causes at his home in Princeton on Wednesday.