Zaha Hadid - Design New York Tuesday, December 15, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Literature

    Zaha Hadid, exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2006, p. 166

  • Catalogue Essay

    Alessi, the Italian design factory that rose to international prominence in the 1990s for manufacturing whimsical housewares including spider-like lemon juicers and rabbit-in-the-hat toothpick holders, claims an important stake in design marketing history and the introduction of high design to middle-market distribution, a now-prevalent collaboration concept adopted by global corporations such as Target, Ikea, Kmart and Tiffany & Co.

    In the early 1980s, Alessi had employed a blockbuster roster of designers--Ettore Sottsass, Alessandro Mendini, Michael Graves, Robert Venturi, Richard Meier--to produce coffee and tea services as part of a program called “Tea and Coffee Piazzas.” These sets would be produced in silver and in limited editions of 99 each and would act as a sort of “micro-architecture,” translating, for both the architect and the consumer, the grander scale ideas of architectural design into smaller scale household product design. In 1985, “Architecture in Silver,” a touring exhibition organized by the Max Protetch Gallery in New York featured these coffee and tea services, which read like “an international who’s who of innovative contemporary architecture,” according to The Washington Post (the show later traveled to the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC). It was exactly this relationship between manufacturer and designer and their introduction of each other to the consumer masses that catapulted the now-emblematic “Whistling Bird” tea kettle designed by Michael Graves from limited edition tea service commission to ubiquitous recognizable object at Target, giving the depth of reach of this program: historic context.

    Twenty years later, Alessi would embark on a similar program, “Tea and Coffee Towers,” employing twenty-two major international architects to again create silver tea and coffee services. Architects for this series included David Chipperfield, Toyo Ito, Thom Mayne, and Zaha Hadid. Following in the footsteps of the original class, these designers concerned themselves less with function and more with creating microcosms of their conceptual architectural projects. The present set is entirely recognizable as a work by Hadid and mimics the swoops and peaks of her most notable architectural landmarks. Hadid designed the present set one year before winning the Pritzker Prize, the first woman to do so.


“TCTHADID” tea and coffee service from the "Tea and Coffee Towers" series

Sterling silver.
Tallest: 11 3/4 in. (29.8 cm)
Manufactured by Alessi, Italy. Artist proof 3 from the edition of 99. Each piece stamped with 925 and silver hallmarks and with ALESSI/ITALY/ZAHA HADID/2003/P.A.3.

$20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for $22,500

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Design New York
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New York Auction 15 December 2015 1pm