Giovanni Alessi Anghini established a plate-turning workshop at Bagnella, Omegna, Italy, and founded the Alessi Company in 1921. It initially worked in nickel silver and brass and later electroplated with nickel, chrome, and silver. The first articles produced were coffeepots, trays, and table accessories. In 1928 the company moved to Crusinallo in order to utilize hydroelectric power and began to shift from the traditional turned products to pressed ones in stainless steel.

Alessi always produced stylish products, including Carlo Alessi Anghini’s Bombe coffee set of 1945. Ettore Alessi, the technical director, opened the company up to collaboration with external designers in 1955. Working with architects, the company produced stylish objects such as the stainless-steel-wire Citrus basket that is still in production. When Alberto Alessi took over the running of the company he began to use star designers, and the company increased its reputation for very stylish objects during the 1970s, working with Ettore Sottsass from 1972. This trend continued into the 1980s and 1990s with commissions from well-known designers and architects for kettles, coffee sets, and table accessories. These included Michael Graves, Philippe Starck, Aldo Rossi, Richard Sapper, Robert Venturi, and Frank Gehry. Although not always the most functional of objects, they were seen as status symbols for the style conscious. Produced for the top end of the market, these and in-house Alessi designs have influenced the look of many mainstream products. In the 1990s Alessi collaborated with Philips on kettles and toasters.

Alessi is an unusual company with a mission to act as a patron for designers; according to Alberto Alessi, it is “not a normal factory—it is closer to being an applied art research laboratory.” It produces three ranges, Alessi (mass-produced stainless steels and plastics), Officina Alessi (small or middle-series production, including reproductions of outstanding late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century designs by the likes of Christopher Dresser and Marianne Brandt), and Tendentse (porcelain). Still a family-owned company, it continues to celebrate