Metal Workshop: Cranbrook for Alessi

May 7, 2012 by

This blog was created during a 2009 collaborative workshop initiated by Alessi with Cranbrook Academy of Art, the American graduate arts school in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan – known as the origin of America’s most famous mid-century designers including Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen and Florence Knoll. In this project, Alessi connects with a new generation of Cranbrook artists and designers to continue a long tradition of integrating Craft with Design. A mixed group of recent graduates from the 3D Design and Metals program worked together in the metal shop for a week of studies to explore forms and techniques. The resulting experiments were later translated into product proposals for Alessi, many of which are shown here. The blog provided an open forum between the artists in America and the Alessi team in Europe. A collection of 4 Cranbrook designs are now produced by Alessi to be launched in the latter half of 2012. Stay tuned for official images of the new products in September 2012.

We invite you to scroll down to review some of the process and discussion that shaped this workshop.

— Scott Klinker, 3D Designer-in-Residence, Cranbrook Academy of Art


Exhibition at Cranbrook Art Museum: ‘Material Workshop: Cranbrook for Alessi’ in March 2012

April 24, 2012 by

This exhibition features prototypes created in a collaborative workshop initiated by the Italian manufacturer Alessi with Cranbrook Academy of Art’s Metalsmithing and 3D Design programs. The 2009 workshop brought artists and designers together in the metalsmithing studio for a week of open-ended material investigations to explore metal forms and techniques. The prototypes are a mixture of material studies, product proposals and pre-production samples that demonstrate both the hands-on craft methods and the design methods used by the group. Four new Cranbrook designs are approved for production to be launched in the latter half of 2012.

Alberto’s Full Response to our Proposals

July 16, 2010 by

Dear Scott,

sorry for the delay in giving you our reactions! Delivery of the projects to Crusinallo proved to be as difficult as it probably was in the ‘50s, but at the end we are happy with the results.


We have made a selection of the projects that we believe can be suitable for the production. I need to underline that at this stage we need some more work directly from the designers, in terms of making themselves more precise prototypes and of taking care of the details and of the questions we ask below. But there are good chances that the majority of the projects of this list will go to production and to official presentation.

Here are our comments, divided by typology:

1.  BANANA HOLDER (John Truex)

I like the sculptural approach. Take care of the balance of the object with the bananas on. We will find the way to dismantle it for easy delivery (screw or something other). Please do a good prototype!

2.  BANANA HOLDER (Patrick Gavin):

Another sculptural approach I like. Here too the possibility to dismantle would make easier the delivery: but I feel that the technical solution should not be visible (if we do not find a good solution, then preferable to have it in one piece). Please do a good prototype!

3. BANANA HOLDER (Scott Klinker):

Very practical! At the moment to me it looks a bit poor, maybe too simple (but this may be its character). Please do a good prototype!

4.  CAKE STAND “V2” (John Truex):

Another good typology!

I would regret if it would miss in the list of the Cranbrook products… But at the present stage there is still something to be improved, we hope the designer will find the improvements:

–       maybe too high? (this critic comes from Alessi USA);

–       stability is ok ? (should we increase the base size?);

–       any knob on the dome (for easy handling)?

Please do a good prototype!


Yes, we can make a little family of different patterns using the same basic form of the body. Please do some good prototypes!

6. “VTRAY” FRUIT BASKET (Adam Shirley)

The “Vtray” Fruit Basket is the variant that we prefer within the family. Simple, practical, a bit shakerian (that is not bad) in its austerity. Please round the corners. Please do a good prototype!

7. MEASURING CUPS (Suzanne Beautyman)

We would love to add this typology to the list of the products! But we still need from the designer some more explanations about her way to deal with the different measures. Ideally, it would be asked to Alessi to have both American and European indications: can you please send us some more comments. We leave to you to chose between the different design options: listen I would not exclude the simpler version “Bird’s eye, all in stainless steel: it will then ask for a brilliant graphic of the signs printed or punched. Please do a good prototype!

8. “BRANCH”, “LOG” OR “RING” TRIVET (John Truex)

I personally like a lot these projects. I like their sculptural sense. I would go for either the “Branch” or the “Log”, leaving the choice to the author. Please do a good prototype!

9. CONTAINER (VASE) o2 (Adam Shirley)

We identify it as a Vase for flowers. Need your indications about the colour(s) and (if you have a preference) the way of colouring it. Please do a good prototype!

10. TABLETABLE (Patrick Gavin)

The typology is unclear and the price will be high. But the design is good, maybe there is a chance… Please do a good prototype!

11. STRETCH (PUSH) SERIES (Seth Papac)

We have only a few images, and no prototypes, so we are not able to evaluate this project! Looks like Bowls and Serving spoons. And it has some intriguing sides. Can you send more infos and prototypes?


The time of the presentation will mainly depend from the reactions of the designers. We usually start the presentation when all the projects are ready, or close to be ready, with production.

We may imagine 2011 as reachable.

Then, about the way to organize presentation, we think to organize a kind of -small but precise-  travelling exhibition through some Museums or even some Alessi showrooms around the world. Maybe starting with USA. And we have some questions for you:

b)   Is Cranbrook willing to design a (easy to assemble and disassemble and move) layout?

bb)   Do you want to do have the first step with an official first presentation in Cranbrook?

bbb)  In order to make the exhibition as interesting as possible, we could show also some of the projects that are not going to be produced, if the quality of the prototypes if good?

Scott, let me know your reaction asap, in order to go on with the development.

And, I take this occasion for tanking you, your colleagues and all the boys and girls of the workshop. It was a nice experience, now let’s see the production results.


Alberto 11/07/2010

Workshop Pics!

March 25, 2010 by

Hi All,

I thought you might enjoy checking out some of the pics I took during the workshop. Clicking here will carry you to the private photo album on Picasa.

All the Best!


snc o1 – adam shirley

March 15, 2010 by

February 19, 2010 by

February 18, 2010 by

bmt o5 – adam shirley

February 9, 2010 by

The Stack Measuring Cup – Suzanne Beautyman

February 8, 2010 by

Mirrored stainless with industrial enamel and pattern decal. Designed to conserve space while providing multiple measurements in each cup. The precise “lip” functions to make stacking easier and allows the user to distinguish between two ingredient measurements in each cup. Visible from above, it eliminates the need to check measurements at eye level. One cup measures 1/2C, 1C, and 1 1/2C in total, another 1/4C, 3/4C, and 1C in total, another 1/3, 2/3, 1C in total.

The Flip Measuring Cup – Suzanne Beautyman

February 8, 2010 by

Mirrored stainless with industrial enamel and pattern decal. These stackable, flippable measuring cups hold ingredients from both ends, allowing you to add different measurements or even double a recipe with just a flip. One measures 1C and 1/2C, one 3/4 and 1/4, and one 2/3 and 1/3.

Bird’s Eye Measuring Cup – Suzanne Beautyman

February 8, 2010 by

Bird’s Eye Measuring Cup. Mirrored stainless with an enamelled interior and measurements in mL and Cups. As opposed to traditional measuring cups with measurements on the outside, this measuring cup’s interior measurements allow the user to view ingredient levels from above, eliminating the need to to hold the cup to eye-level to check measurements. A 2-cup capacity accommodates measuring larger quantities, while a slightly flared lip allows for easy pouring from all angles.

Banana Hooks – Iris Eichenberg

February 8, 2010 by

snp o2 – adam shirley

February 5, 2010 by





vtray o2- adam shirley

February 4, 2010 by

container o2 – adam shirley

February 4, 2010 by

mini v – adam shirley

February 4, 2010 by

tabtray o1 – adam shirley

February 4, 2010 by

The Measuring Cup (CAD renderings coming soon!) – Suzanne Beautyman

February 3, 2010 by

Banana Tree – John Truex

February 2, 2010 by

A simple tree for hanging fruit. The base is polished stainless cut in a slightly irregular shape with a beveled edge and the tree can be cast or lathed and welded.

Cake Stand v2 – John Truex

February 2, 2010 by

-Cake stand with clear dome.

-Cake stand with gradient mirror-clear dome.

Plate is milled nylon with a chamfered edge and a groove to position the dome.

The platter and dome can be used and stored without the stand. The bottom surface of the plate is angled to lift the edge slightly from the table surface.

Platter with mirror gradient dome.

The cake stand is shipped/stored as three pieces plus the dome. The central post is turned on a lathe and the ends are threaded to attach to the base plate and platter. The bottom of the platter has a stainless steel insert to act as a base when the platter is used alone and to accept the threads of the post.

Kitchen Tower – Iris Eichenberg

February 1, 2010 by

Fruit Seat – Iris Eichenberg

February 1, 2010 by

Banana Frame by Patrick Gavin

January 31, 2010 by

Bananas bruise quickly when lain on a flat surface. Banana Frame is a small four-legged structure on which someone can hang the fruit to avoid this situation. Made of cast aluminum, its cross-section is sized to nestle neatly within banana stems. The geometric form composes itself around the organic shape of the fruit— like the picture frame surrounding a still-life painting. The object continues Alessi’s commitment to a ‘dignified’ consumer experience, providing people with both a functional and artistic product.

Tripod (for bananas) – David Schafer

January 31, 2010 by

(Edit: Added some more notes to page 2)

Fire Plates – David Schafer

January 31, 2010 by

(Prototype model is a bit delayed… will post soon!)

Fruit Display. Design: Scott Klinker

January 24, 2010 by

Hang bananas or grapes on the central stem and place other fruits in the bowl. The stem can also serve as a handle at other times. Bowl is spun stainless and the stem is molded or cast. The stem fastens to the base with a threaded end, and ships flat. Another option would be a stem molded in plastic with a shift in color.

tooling – adam shirley

January 22, 2010 by

process variations – adam shirley

January 22, 2010 by

tilt tray – adam shirley

January 22, 2010 by

fourtray – adam shirley

January 22, 2010 by

vtray – adam shirley

January 22, 2010 by

Patterned Dish Forms at QMC: Design Scott Klinker

January 22, 2010 by

Today at QMC we produced the research we started planning in August! (Thank you Michael! Thank you Ron!) The technique here combines 2D graphic cut-outs with 3D stamping. I created a series of classic 2D architectural patterns that were laser cut into flat steel blanks – some cold rolled, some stainless. We then stamped these patterns in a simple dish form, but began combining various patterns and blank shapes to explore what kind of layering may result in the mold. The process was similar to my stamping experiments in the Metals studio.  The results are very interesting, with a variety of geometries and lace textures coming from a simple set of starting variables. The technique here is purely sketchy and experimental, with rough edges everywhere. The potential for new product languages using these technologies is extremely exciting! Steel, Pattern, Texture, Surface, Structure….Craft.

2-Position Cake Stand V2. Design: Scott Klinker

January 8, 2010 by

One form = Two products.  The product could be produced in wood (shown in solid walnut) and metal. The metal version is made from 4 spun parts of stainless steel that are welded together. The design is equally functional and elegant in both positions. The form is strictly functional, with the exception of the two-column structural support, which lends an attitude of ceremony, ritual and classical romance- a playful cartoon of Cranbrook’s design legacy. The double columns and bold proportions draw attention to this object as miniature architecture on the table.  The wood model shown here has 3 columns instead of 2. Dimensions: 30.5 cm Diameter x 10.8 cm high.

S&M Service – images

December 19, 2009 by

S&M Service

For Scott.

December 15, 2009 by

I spotted at my local kitchenware store this low-key ‘lunch jar’ which reminded me of both food container concepts posted by Scott.  Made by a Japanese company (in Thailand).  I think this idea of organized, compacted hot and cold food is  under-served in the American market.


December 12, 2009 by

I’ve designed another version of TableTable. As I am concerned about the manufacturing costs involved to produce the first version, for the new design I’ve separated the tray and legs from each other and added a joint between them.  Ideally the tray and joints would be stamped out of thin stainless steel sheet and the legs are extruded stainless tube.  The joint would be non-visibly welded to the tray; the leg would be swaged to the joint.  Polished finish.

Dimensioned drawing (PDF): tabletableV2

The Alessi Team

December 7, 2009 by

The Alessi team is made up of the following people. Their comments will be listed under the Alessi username. We ask them to please sign their comments with their name, so that we can understand your expertise.

– Alberto Alessi (he has already given his comments)

– Danilo Alliata, Senjor Design Manager, responsible for technical aspects

– Silvano Guglielmazzi, Product Marketing and Communication Manager

– Martin Gerst, Product Manager

– Gloria Barcellini, Assistant Metaproject

S&M Service

November 17, 2009 by

Our interest is in designing service pieces(utensils, bowls, plates) which are generated from the process of milling down an ingot of metal. With this process completely unique surfaces can be created and then utilized, through 3-D scanning and laser cutting, to produce unique service pieces in a variety of materials and finishes.

Seth papac & Maria phillips

Nested Enamelware Measuring Cups – Suzanne Beautyman

November 16, 2009 by

SNP01 – Adam Shirley

November 16, 2009 by

salt and pepper set

Katie MacDonald

November 16, 2009 by

Squish Dish – Richard Elaver

November 16, 2009 by

Metal Fabric Vessels – Richard Elaver

November 16, 2009 by

Relational Objects – Jonathan Muecke

November 15, 2009 by

Relational Objects

The three proposed objects test the limits of typology, material, and form.  The aim of these objects is to defy a ‘standard object measurement’ in order to form new ‘relational objects.’

The objects are designed to draw relationships.  This ‘relational’ sense in the object is produced from connections to other objects / other spaces / and other functions through considered shifts of typical typologies / material ideas / and shapes.

1.  ARC



kitchen tower – Iris Eichenberg

November 15, 2009 by

Imagine- a tower of pots, vases, drains, container, graters, leather lids, and a vase upside down…

These vessels have the same diameter, but have varying height depending on their function. The tower is a stack and presentation of materials- steel, copper, felt, cast iron, aluminum, and enamel. While the outside exposes the raw and pure material- oxidized, polished, or fixed in a rusted state, the inside is colorfully finished with enamel and paint. Thus when separated, the copper and steel Kitchen Tower becomes a colorful table-setting.

Lunchscape – David Schafer

November 15, 2009 by

Fire Plates – David Schafer

November 15, 2009 by

Cake Constructs – David Schafer

November 15, 2009 by

Quilted Trays – David Schafer

November 15, 2009 by

TableTable by Patrick Gavin

November 15, 2009 by

TableTable is furniture for the table top.  Formed out of polished stainless steel, the design is a tray with legs, providing additional surface area on which to store or present objects.







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