Alberto Alessi
CEO, Alessi

Alberto Alessi Scopes Out Luxury In Design

To embed this video, copy this code:

The designer says it all depends on how you define luxury.

Alberto Alessi

Born in Arona, Italy in 1946, Alberto Alessi is managing director of Alessi Spa and head of marketing strategy, communication and design management.

As the eldest son of Carlo Alessi, he represents the third generation of the Alessi family, and officially joined the company in 1970, the day after he graduated from law school. One of his first projects was to overhaul the company's corporate identity, commissioning Franco Sargiani and Eija Helander to work on graphic design and packaging as well as the company offices at Crusinallo.

Alberto Alessi has written several books, including La Cintura di Orione (Longanesi, Milano 1986), Not in Production, Next to Production (Alessi Spa, Crusinallo 1988), and The Dream Factory (Electa, Milano 1998). During his career he has contributed articles for many international magazines and publications and been a visiting professor at several design colleges.

Alberto Alessi is a member of the Academic Board of the U.I.A.H., Helsinki and sits on the honorary committee of the Design Museum, London. He is a senior fellow of the Royal College of Art, London; honorary professor of the Hochschule der Bildenden Kunste, Saarbrucken; Doctor Honoris Causa of the U.I.A.H. of Helsinki; Doctor of Fine Arts at the Miami University of Oxford, Ohio; and, has an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Central England, Birmingham.

In 1998 he received the Design Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Brooklyn Museum of Art.


Question: Is design a luxury?

Alessi:    Depends from what you think is a luxury.  Design, for me, for all the Italian design factories phenomenon, is a new and very contemporary form of art and poetry.  Then, is art and poetry a luxury?  I leave to you the question. 

Question: How do you balance functionality with art?

Alessi:    It depends very much from the area where you are working in.  For example, my personal job in my work, I am dealing with the objects that are hundreds of years old, if not millenary sold.  If you think how old this bowl or a cup or a pot, thousand years old, that means that almost all the functional matters have been… have found their solution.  And this space, which is left, is still a space related to the emotions, not so much to the function.  You cannot invent so much in my field.