Alessi moves into furniture with Philippe Starck chair collaboration
Italian homeware brand Alessi has made a jump into the world of furniture, launching the frying-pan-inspired Poêle Collection designed by Philippe Starck.
Unveiled in Alessi's Milan design week exhibition, Ars Metallica, the Poêle Collection includes a chair, a high stool, a low stool and a coat stand.
Alessi president Alberto Alessi said the launch could mark a new direction for the brand, which is best known for kitchen products such as espresso makers and cutlery.
"It has always been a dream of mine to enter the world of furniture significantly," said Alberto Alessi, who has run the company since 1970.
"Now, with the Poêle Collection and Philippe Starck, we are doing a serious trial," he said.
French designer Starck is famously behind one of Alessi's most iconic products, the controversial Juicy Salif lemon squeezer, released in the 1990s.
Alessi said that the pair had been planning a furniture collaboration since the early 2000s.
"I have been trying to make a chair with Philippe Starck for around 20 years now and, finally, we did it," he said.
Across its 103-year history, Alessi has only occasionally experimented with furniture. Past launches include the David Chipperfield-designed Piana folding chair in 2011 and the Blow Up side tables designed by the Campana brothers in 2006.
The Poêle Collection treads new ground by incorporating the same manufacturing processes that Alessi uses to make its stainless-steel cookware.
This cold-press metal technology has been used in the manufacturing of Alessi products since the 1950s.
The centrepiece of the collection is the Poêle Chair, which features a gently curved stainless-steel seat with a mirror-polished finish. This sits over a brown-dyed beech wood frame.
"I asked [Starck] if it was possible to design a chair that is manufactured like a frying pan is made, using the Alessi cold-press metal high-technology," said Alessi.
"As is always the case with Starck, it started with a subversion."
According to Starck, the design was initially treated as a joke.
"The Poêle Chair started as a serious joke, with a sketch of a pan with legs and the great idea of adapting an existing high-technology to different purposes," Starck said.
"The seat and back inspired by a frying pan, legs as handles, the Poêle Chair elegantly incarnates the most beautiful symptoms of human intelligence: humour and technology. Very much like my relationship to Alberto and Alessi."
Alessi Ars Metallica was on show at Palazzo Borromeo d'Adda in Milan from 18 to 23 April 2023. See Dezeen Events Guide for more architecture and design events around the world.