Curious Bites

Michael Graves: "Good design should be accessible to all"

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Michael Graves: "Good design should be accessible to all"

How does a kitchen utensil turn into a pop culture icon? The answer comes from Michael Graves, one of the world’s most renowned contemporary architects and creator of the famous 9093 Kettle: First of a ‘family’ of objects designed for Alessi in the last 30 years, and the one that sold the greatest number of units in the company's history.

The celebrated stainless steel kettle was welcomed by a great success when introduced in 1985, especially thanks to the mix of great design and production methods: a combination on which Michael Graves worked hard by applying his personal visual codes and fusing influences from Art Deco to Pop Art to even cartoons.

When asked to provide the American market with a new kitchen utensil, Graves focused on the kettle, symbol of the Anglo-Saxon culture. He chose to tune in with the public while breaking strict design codes: he added to the project a funny detail the kettle is now famous for, a red bird that sings when water is done boiling.

This innovative idea opened the way to new playful styles of design that ended up being a characteristic of the 90s. He subsequently applied this formula to all of the ‘families’ designed after the kettle: the Pepper mill, the Pitcher and the Creamer, the Kitchen clock, the Salt castor, the Mug.

Thanks to its iconic value, the 9093 kettle is shown in some of the world’s most prestigious museums (London Design Museum, Victoria National Gallery, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Zurigo Museum für Gestaltung, Paris Centre George Pompidou di Parigi) and featured in several movies (among others Alice by Woody Allen and Ghost by Jerry Zucker). 

It’s not casual that the same happened to another member of the Graves’ ‘family’: the 9098 Pepper Mill. In fact, the latter appeared in the 1999 movie Matrix.

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