Kettle, with a bird-shaped whistle and packaging, stainless steel/ polyamide/ cardboard, designed by Michael Graves, made by Alessi, USA/ Italy, 1985-1999
Designed by the American architect and designer Michael Graves (born 1934) in 1984-85 for the American market, this kettle was Alessi's instant success. Mass-produced, with annual sales of 100,000, it also was in great demand in Europe and many non-European countries including Australia. It became an international icon of avant-garde mass-produced postmodern kitchenware of the late 1980s and 1990s. Its immense popularity, particularly among young, professional middle classes, prompted the production of a 'family' of associated objects for the kitchen which Graves and Alessi continued to expand well into the 1990s.
The kettle was designed by Michael Graves in 1984-85. Following the success of Richard Sapper's 'kettle with a singing whistle', Alessi intended to make a cheaper, mass-produced version. The kettle was the first item in the 'Graves family' which in the early 1990s also consisted of: sugar bowl and creamer (1988), espresso coffee maker 'Pelicano', photo holder, corkscrew, pepper mill, salt shaker, champagne cup, kitchen timer, trays (1994), jug (1991), covered dish, coffee cup and mug (1989), butter dish (1989), coffee plungers (1989) and kitchen clock (1992).
Alberto Alessi about Michael Graves: "Graves' highly personal and easy to recognise formal style blends influences from the European tradition, Art Deco, American 'pop' and flashes of pre-Columbian culture. He has shown he can bewitch the public like only few of the designers with whom I've worked. I think that his success derives from his wholly uninhibited approach to the economic dimension which this activity inevitably entails, an attitude that enables him to read the expectations of the public more clearly than his European counterparts." (A Alessi, 'The dream factory, Alessi since 1921', 1998, p. 58).
Made by Alessi in Crusinallo, Italy, 1990s.
Note: Its original price was to be US$49.99 but when it was launched in 1985 it cost US$75.