When someone enters our home, we want them to feel like they’ve entered a surreal but cohesive narrative—the love child aesthetic of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, Don Draper (if he dug Bauhaus), and Miuccia’s Prada’s minimalist, XXL-slide-equipped office. The vibe: Inviting. Chic. Horny, with a kiss of unhinged. Achieving this level of retro Italian funhouse is a tall order, granted, but we’re getting closer thanks to one postmodern home decor brand: Alessi.
You know Alessi, even if you don’t think you do. The iconic Italian brand turned 101 this year, and has been behind some of the most whimsical home decor and kitchen tool designs of the past century, including the inimitable 9093 whistling bird-dragon kettle, anthropomorphic corkscrews, a citrus juicer shaped like a rocket, a strainer that looks like Pinnochio’s face, and more. The goal of the company, which began in 1921 as a metal foundry by Giovanni Alessi, has always been to hit the perfect note between functionality and high design. It started with nickel-, chrome-, and silver-plated brass tableware, and has established an evolving stable of some of the world’s most renowned architects and designers, including Jean Nouvel, Philippe Starck, and Zaha Hadid (to name but a few) under the stewardship of Alessi’s son, Carlo, as chief designer. Together, they melded chromatic industrialism with postmodern sex appeal, and brought new clout to the words “Made in Italy.”
We’ve worked hard to make our house an adult(ish) home over the years, curating a blend of Japandi furniture, Scandinavian shag rugs, honey-hued lighting (yes, the sunset lamp is worth it), and extraterrestrial-looking flower arrangements. A touch of Alessi is just what the 2022 vibe shift ordered, because it adds just the right amount of sophisticated, metallic texture and pop art flair to feel cool, but never douchey.
If you need a serotonin boost, Alessi is there. If you need a rad housewarming present, white elephant item, or wedding gift, Alessi will knock it out of the park. Dare we say it, this brand has become the Willy Wonka of home goods, so we’ve made a design cheat sheet to some of its most iconic wares, from coffee accessories to statement fruit bowls. Andiamo!
Those iconic Alessi kettles
These Italians, dude. They really pounded the espresso, and said, “Perchè no? Garnish that kettle with a bird whistle—no, a dragon.” The iconic 9093 kettle first launched in the 1980s, and has become one of the brand’s most recognizable products. Today, there are so many Alessi kettles to choose from, including the more pared-down Conico model and the round Bulbul kettle, which really needs to be in Pierre Cardin’s bubble palace already.
The coolest Alessi coffee accessories
Alessi thrives on caffè, and not just in the trademark Italian, gaba-cool way. Over the years, the brand has given us unique demitasse spoons and coffee makers that look like they could star in Oskar Schlemmer’s Bauhaus ballet. (Toke up and watch that thing ASAP.)
Color-blocking kitchen essentials
Plain glass jars? Fuggo plastic pepper grinders? No—this is your funhouse, and it deserves elevated storage basics for your flour, coffee, grains, and more. Alessi is the best at bringing primary and pastel color-blocked motifs into everything from canisters to spice grinders, making objects that would otherwise be an eyesore into front and center objets d’art.
No one does vino like the Italians
Leave it to Alessi to help you find the perfect Frasurbane housewarming gift for the wine lover, courtesy of its corkscrews. They come in designs ranging from “stone-faced lady” to “shapes on shapes on shapes” and can be paired with one of Alessi’s with a gorgeous bottle rack.
The best grab bag gift
Everything Alessi touches has an air of whimsy, but some pieces really do go above and beyond. This “pino” funnel would make a great gift for a coworker or addition to a white elephant grab bag. It somehow manages to say both “I’m fun!” and “I’ve got the Ritalin hookup.”
A show-stopping fruit bowl
Why stick to strictly floral centerpieces in your home? You’re no design rube. You’re here to arrange bananas, apples, and onions in a cutout bowl worthy of Daddy Matisse himself.
Alessi engineering at its best
Now here’s a piece that puts the absolute genius of Alessi engineering on display. This trivet is not only giving pure ninja star sex, but it also folds up for compact storage. Fun and functional.
As time goes by
Here’s an idea: Gift this to your friend on their next birthday, and, gosh darnit, they won’t even be able to stay mad at you as you whisper—tick tock, tick tock—in their ear.
Now that’s amore.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.