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Alessi explores the potential of Chinese product design
Sep 20, 2011

The (Un)Forbidden City is Alessi's new metaproject curated by Gary Chang which involves a handful of exclusively Chinese architects.
Under the design responsibility of Chang, Alessi has invited seven renowned Chinese architects Chang Yung Ho, Liu Jia Kun, Ma Yan Song, Urbanus, Wang Shu Zhang Ke and Zhang Lei who for the first time ever have been asked to tackle an industrial design project and to give their own interpretation of one of Alessi’s most typological archetypes: the tray.

The results of this new meta-project will be unveiled during Beijing Design Week 2011, with an official press preview at the China Shijitan Contemporary Art Center on September 26, with the collaboration of the Beijing Industrial Design Center. The eight projects, which include Chang’s design, will be on show in a special exhibition curated by Chang at the Aether Art Space gallery in Sanlitun, with the presence of Alberto Alessi and the authors.

The exhibition will officially open on September 28 and will last until October 31. On September 27, a press preview will start at 6 p.m. The eight projects will enter production early next year and will be launched within the 2012 Spring Summer collection as part of the Officina Alessi catalogue.
Stainless steel has been used in the projects by Chang Yung Ho, Wang Shu, Zhang Ke and Zhang Lei, stainless steel and mahogany have been used for Ma Yansong’s project, aluminum and stainless steel have been used in Liu Jiakun’s project, stainless steel and melamine in Chang’s project, and melamine in the Urbanus project.
The (Un)Forbidden City is a design operation that has some important precedents in the Alessi history: the above mentioned Tea & Coffee Towers in 2003 and the Tea & Coffee Piazza in 1983. The term metaproject refers to the setting of a hypothetical socio-cultural scenario that can act as a breeding ground for new projects. In short, the metaproject tries to depict a [consumer] society that we would like to help influence, and therefore the products and designers that should be involved.
The Tea & Coffee Piazza and the Tea & Coffee Towers projects had the purpose to discover possible new paths for Italian design and to explore new ways of incorporating aspects of architecture and industrial design. The results of both projects were amazing: they contributed to drafting foreign designers into Italian design on the one hand and, on a practical standpoint, they helped create important collaborations with some of the architects involved, who would develop into important designers for Alessi over the coming years, just think about “La Conica” coffee maker by Aldo Rossi or the “9093” kettle with whistling bird by Michael Graves or the table collections by David Chipperfield, the Future Systems, Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas, the tea and coffee sets by Jean Nouvel or the SANAA and the items designed by Zaha Hadid.

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