During the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, Alessi reopened its flagship store in SoHo and presented an exhibition entitled Metal Workshop: Cranbrook for Alessi with the Cranbrook Academy of Art. The exhibition in material studies, product proposals and pre-production samples was the work of a mix of Cranbrook-based metal artists and designers working together on an open-ended material investigation. Hani Rashid (Asymptote Architecture), a 1985 graduate of the Cranbrook Academy of Art, was the architect of the Greene Street store and also oversaw the renovations.
Patterned Dishes by Scott Klinker, the result of seeing how a 2D pattern would translate to a 3D form.
The exhibition is the result of a 2009 workshop initiated by Alessi, the Italian ‘design factory’ at Cranbrook Academy of Art, the renowned graduate school of architecture, fine art and design based in Bloomfield Hills, MI. Four designs from the workshop are in production and will be launched in the second half of the year. The workshop was co-directed by Cranbrook 3D Designer-in-Residence, Scott Klinker, and Metalsmithing Artist-in-Residence, Iris Eichenberg. Participants from the Metalsmithing Department included: Adam Shirley, Seth Papac, Katie MacDonald, David Schafer, Richard Nelipovich and Suzanne Beautyman.
Cranbrook students at work in the studio
Participants from the 3D Design Department included: John Truex, Patrick Gavin and Jonathan Muecke. "When Alberto Alessi visited Cranbrook in 2009, he seemed especially impressed with the material experiments in the studios,” said Scott Klinker, co-director of the workshop. “His vision for a collaborative workshop was very specific: search for new forms in metal through a hands-on, craft process in the metal shop. The workshop addressed two main questions. First, what forms will metal take? Then later, what Alessi products might come from those forms? The final products seem to capture this fascination with the physical manipulation of metal." A blog that served as the communication between Cranbrook and Alessi for the duration of the project has just been made public.
A workshop at Cranbrook
“Alberto's embrace of Cranbrook's interdisciplinary practice model made this project – a collaboration of metals and 3-D design – particularly exciting. Alessi now links the designers of today with the iconic Cranbrook metals heritage of designers such as Eames, Knoll, and Bertoia, to name only a few,” said Reed Kroloff, the Director of the Cranbrook Academy of Art.
“The idea to organize this workshop came to me during a visit to Cranbrook in 2009. This visit gave me the opportunity to experience the existence of a clear attitude typical of the Arts and Crafts movement, and also typical of silver and metalsmiths, that has always intrigued me so much because it is so rare in European design,” said Alberto Alessi, Alessi's president. “The purpose of our workshop was to understand what this kind of cultural background and attitude, based on the hammer and on the metalworker’s manual ability, could provide to today’s design aesthetic. I am glad to have started this collaboration that enriches Alessi’s practice as a research laboratory in the applied arts, as an artistic mediator between design on one side and the market on the other.”
Adam Shirley's Vtray fruit stand, slated for late 2012 production.