News - Marcel Wanders Dressed for Alessi
“I’m much better at eating than cooking,” says the Dutch designer Marcel Wanders as he tucks into a dish of chorizo and prawns. It’s been prepared by chefs using new products – aluminium pots and pans – from Wanders’ Dressed collection for Alessi.
As part of London Design Festival, Wanders is hosting a live cooking demonstration in celebration of the expansion of the Dressed range, a collection of tableware that launched in 2011. I’ve just asked Wanders if the ornamental aesthetics of Dressed grew out of his own experiences in the kitchen. While the Dutch designer downplays the extent of his own culinary expertise, he is also eager to air a seemingly well-rehearsed critique of the modern home kitchen.
“I really want to make the type of work which is fun and human,” says Wanders. “It’s been 25 years now where we’ve tried to make professional kitchens for the home. These kitchens have the organising principle of the factory. They look like factories! I don’t understand why this is the vision. I want it to look like my mum’s kitchen!
“I would like the ideal professional kitchen to be a home kitchen, rather than the other way around, where a home kitchen is meant to resemble a factory! I want tiles on the walls to have flowers on them, rather than be in stainless steel.”
The new additions to the Dressed range are consistent with the decorative tableware that preceded them, and a far cry from the sleek, minimalist aesthetic Wanders abhors. All pieces are adorned with an ornamental relief pattern. The most charming application of this pattern is at the base of a frying pan; using this pan, the chefs at the press view present us with fried halloumi bearing the imprint of Wanders’ design. “Your kitchen doesn’t have to be minimal, it doesn’t have to look like your first IKEA,” says Wanders delightedly.
Wanders also presents a quirky new product for Alessi that is not part of Dressed. Fatman, a rotund harlequin figure, is a folding cake stand that opens up into three round surfaces. It’s the first of a number of products in coloured stainless steel that Wander plans to make for Alessi. The commedia dell’arte and the circus will be the unifying themes in this series.
“Maybe I think Alessi has lost its power a bit, the power to be the one supplier of great gifts,” says Wanders. “I wanted to tap into that power again,” says Wanders.
WORDS Kristina Rapacki IMAGES Alessi