With nearly a century of history behind it, Alessi has established itself as a leading housewares and kitchen utensils brand, translating the most advanced cultural, aesthetic, design and functional quality into mass production. Luca Alessi, the brand’s commercial director for Asia-Pacific, talks to Perspective about working alongside internationally-renowned designers as well as local artists
Founded in 1921 by Giovanni Alessi as a ‘workshop for the processing of brass and nickel silver sheet metal, with foundry’, Alessi has always been synonymous with quality. With almost a century of history, it has gradually evolved to become one of the leading ‘factories of Italian design’, capable of applying its expertise and excellence in design management to a wide range of products.
Alongside its open-minded approach to change and international development, Alessi has steadfastly maintained its strong bonds with the traditions and cultural background of its origins, and continues to be synonymous with handcrafted objects produced with the help of machines.
[caption id="attachment_17798" align="alignnone" width="550"] Marcel Wanders brilliantly captures the enigmatic characters, glittering lights and vivid colours of the Circus in his recent collection of tableware and homeware items for Alessi[/caption]
Creating household items and tableware with extraordinary workmanship and finishing, Alessi gradually expanded its business beyond Europe and into the rest of the world, including the Far East. The vast distance between places such as Hong Kong, however, involved more than just physical distance — there was also the issue of an entirely different market, with preferences and needs which could not be easily grasped from afar.
Realising that they needed someone on the ground in Asia with local and regional expertise to steer the company, Luca Alessi, currently commercial director – Asia-Pacific of Alessi and a member of the family’s fourth generation, stepped up. He faced a tremendous challenge — and huge opportunity — but he came to the job well prepared.
“I had worked for De’Longhi before, managing the brand’s activities in Asia, America, and South Africa,” Alessi says. “I was also sent to Hong Kong by the company, which meant that I gained knowledge of this region, which has proven very useful for my current role in
the family business.”
[caption id="attachment_17799" align="alignnone" width="550"] Architect Zaha Hadid, who worked with Alessi in 2003 to produce the Tea and Coffee Piazza, as well as in 2005 for the Crevasse vase, partnered with the brand again in 2015 to create the Forma grater[/caption]
Generations of the Alessi family have joined the company’s management team, and Luca is no exception. With a Master’s degree in business administration from Hawaii Pacific University, he initially joined De’Longhi as product manager. His promotion to trade marketing manager in 2012 also marked his relocation to Hong Kong, where he has been based ever since.
Asked why he didn’t just join the family business straight away, Alessi explains that he decided to work for other companies first to gain experience. “The family always encourages the younger generation to [find work outside the company],” he says. “It enabled me to gain a lot of confidence, as I proved myself during this time.”
[caption id="attachment_17800" align="alignnone" width="800"] Last year, Alessi launched the vividly-coloured multi-functional Ellipse collection, created by Australian designer Abi Alice[/caption]
His ultimate goal was always to return to the family business after several years, and this he did in 2013 when he was appointed international sales and development manager for Alessi in Asia-Pacific, using the professional knowledge he gained in Hong Kong. “I think the major challenge is that the Asia-Pacific region is very far from Italy,” he says. “The headquarters doesn’t necessarily know what the Hong Kong market needs.”
This is an excerpt from the "Making high design accessible to all” article from the April 2017 issue of Perspective magazine.
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