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Alessi: Ethical and Radical

November 21, 2010–April 10, 2011

Alessi is widely regarded as the world's most innovative and influential manufacturer of household objects that blur the boundaries between industry and art. The family-owned and operated company was founded in 1921 by Giovanni Alessi near Lake Orta in the foothills of the Italian Alps, an area known for highly developed craft traditions in wood and metal. In the 1950s, under the leadership of Carlo Alessi, Giovanni's son, the company began to commission products from outside designers, and it was through this strategy that Carlo's eldest son, Alberto Alessi, brought the company to the forefront of international design.

Alessi: Ethical and Radical presents Alberto Alessi's achievements since the 1970s in producing functional designs of exceptional quality by collaborating with leading architects and designers, including Ron Arad, the Campana Brothers, Achille Castiglioni, Michael Graves, Greg Lynn, Alessandro Mendini, Ettore Sottsass, Philippe Starck, and Robert Venturi. Different from any other modern manufacturer, Alessi has offered its collaborators absolute creative freedom and technical support in a series of radical, experimental projects, whether or not the results could ever be brought to production. Alessi: Ethical and Radical includes objects, drawings, videos, and photographs that demonstrate the company's unique approach to design and unique way of working with its designers.

Collab is a nonprofit group of design professionals that supports the Philadelphia Museum of Art's modern and contemporary design collection and related programs. Alberto Alessi, President of Alessi S.p.A., is the 2010 winner of Collab's Design Excellence Award.

Perelman Building


This exhibition is made possible by Lisa S. Roberts and David W. Seltzer, with additional support provided by Collab—a group that supports the Museum's modern and contemporary design collection and programs—in collaboration with the Museo Alessi. Support for the Collab Student Competition was provided by Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation.Support for the VIP reception and tour provided by ACE Private Risk Services and Marsh Private Client Services.


Kathryn Hiesinger, Curator of European Decorative Arts after 1700

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