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Aluminum holds a particularly special spot for Jasper Morrison. The British designer always strives to pare an item to its essence, and when it comes to this metal, he loves it best in its elemental silvery finish, unadorned to highlight the ideal of the honest utensil. A modern classic, Jasper’s KnifeForkSpoon flatware collection accompanies the extraordinarily ordinary tableware he created for Alessi. The Italian heritage house tapped Jasper to fashion a line of cutlery, porcelain and glass services with uncompromising quality—at a price as accessible as its sophisticatedly simple design.
A name nearly synonymous with modern Italian design, Alessi defined the post-modern 1980s with its superstars Philippe Starck and Michael Graves. However, the company was actually founded almost 100 years ago in 1921 by Giovanni Alessi, as a tableware workshop producing items in nickel, chromium and silver-plated brass in Valle Strona in the Italian Alps. Son Carlo Alessi, trained as an industrial designer, brought modernism to the fore in the 1930s and later his brother Ettore Alessi began the practice of collaborating with outside designers.
By the 1970s, the company teamed with the likes of Achille Castiglioni and Ettore Sottsass before ushering in its most iconic decade. Now under Carlo's son Alberto Alessi, collaborations continue with a new generation, including Jasper Morrison, Mario Botta and Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec. "A true work of design must be able to move people," says Alberto, "to convey feelings, to trigger memories, to surprise, to go against the grain."
“We do things in 3-D on computers these days,” says Jasper Morrison, reflecting on a 35-year career as a designer. “We are considerably more efficient and precise, and we are able to have much more control over the finished article.” This giant of British design has been responsible for everything from alarm clocks to appliances, from telephones to trains (the Hannover Tram, the largest European light rail of its time.) Along the way, he’s collaborated with numerous brands including Alessi, Cappellini, Muji and Sony. Yet Jasper is unpretentious about his vast influence, honing in on a product’s function and even entitling his recent retrospective "Thingness," which, with typical perspective, he defines as "the quality that makes a thing good at what it does.”