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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[…]

The designer positions his product line in a down market.

Question: Are recessions good for creativity?

Alessi:    There are 2 schools of thinking in that area.  One school says that okay, in design history that while periods of very, very tough economic or social situation… like if you take Finland, Northern Europe, in the ‘30s, when Finland started to be an independent country and it was the same period when it gave birth to the best of its design, the Alvar Aalto, just to quote one… to mention one name.  Or even if you think to Italy right after the war, when Italy was all destroyed and the phenomenon during the early ‘50s, this phenomenon of the Italian design factories started operating.  But on the other hand, there is the other school that says, the more we can afford to experiment, also looking to the market, the more… the wider and healthier is the market, the better it is for experiments… experimental activities.

Question: How does your business change during a recession?

Alessi:    We put more attention to the prices that is evident, self-evident.  But this is the only modification.  For the rest, since I do not believe design is a luxury but design is a new form of art and poetry, so people need art and poetry as well.  They will need design.  So I’m trying to continue to develop the best possible design.  I will, by sure, not decrease the effort to produce the best possible design.  That is sure. 

Question: Is there a dichotomy between design and marketability?

Alessi:    I don’t see contradiction between having a design with a lot of integrity and also being accepted by the market.  An American designer, Raymond Loewy, in the ‘30s, was saying… was practicing the strategy invented by him, that was called the MAYA Strategy.  Meaning most advanced yet acceptable by the people.  This is the factor… what makes a good design.  To be, together, able to… To be able to bring together the best possible quality in terms of expression in artistic terms, and that is a cultural matter.  And also, to be understood by final customers, and that is a commercial matter.  The science of design is that we try to put these 2 apparently opposite facts of matters together.