Inner life of an object


Richard Sapper and Alessi’s 9090 espresso coffee maker… 

Sapper caffettiere

“Designing a product is a bit like walking through a wood. The wood is nearly always an unfamiliar place, where you don’t know which path to take. Sometimes you get lost in the wood, in which case it’s better to turn back and start afresh”: this is how German designer Richard Sapper described how way he felt when making Alessi’s 9090  espresso coffee maker. Launched in 1979 as Alessi’s first kitchen item, it was a huge success: first of several Compasso d’Oro (Golden Compass) awards for Alessi, it was also the first design to be included into the Permanent Design Collection at New York’s MOMA.

Despite the final success, the first steps of the creative process were a challenge. Sapper wanted to produce the object in large numbers and at a very low cost. At the time there were many competitors on the market which produced millions of pieces each year.

Sapper, changing the way the moka pieces were held together, made it possible to open the new espresso maker with one hand simply by lifting the handle.

Functional and charming, 9090 became the first of Alessi’s “amphibious object”: made for kitchen use, it also fitted well directly on the table thanks to its high design quality. Born in Munich in 1932, Richard Sapper is considered one of the most important and representative designers of his generation. With 9090 espresso coffee maker he won one of ten Compasso d’Oro (Golden Compass) he was awarded with. He’s one of the designers who has been with Alessi the longest, creating several innovative and iconic kitchen utensils: take a look at the unconventional Todo cheese grater.

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