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Figuring out the best way to mark the season? This hand-decorated porcelain presepe from the “Figure Project" from Alessi is a spirited way to celebrate. The "figure" is in the figurines, and the aim of the project is to update the refined production tradition of European manufacturers which began in the 18th century with methods and aesthetics in line with contemporary ideas. To do this, Laura Polinoro, who has served as creative director and in other roles for the Italian design house, tapped illustrator-writer-musician Massimo Giacon, a leader in this generation's revival of Italian comic strips. Giacon has collaborated with the Sottsass Associati Studio and Sieger Design, and developed projects for Memphis, Philips, Swatch and Artemide.
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."