Author Archive

Metal Workshop: Cranbrook for Alessi

May 7, 2012

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

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

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

Fruit Display. Design: Scott Klinker

January 24, 2010

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.

Patterned Dish Forms at QMC: Design Scott Klinker

January 22, 2010

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

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.

The Alessi Team

December 7, 2009

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

Laptop Lunch Box. Design: Scott Klinker

November 14, 2009

Point of View: American lifestyles are an on-the-go, multi-tasking mix of living and working. My concepts try to balance an attitude of refined eating with constant dynamic movement. Click on image for larger view.

Laptop Pedestal for Kitchen. Design: Scott Klinker

November 13, 2009

Point of View: American lifestyles are an on-the-go, multi-tasking mix of living and working. My concepts try to balance an attitude of refined eating with constant dynamic movement. Click on image for larger view.

Picnic Set. Design: Scott Klinker

November 13, 2009

Point of View: American lifestyles are an on-the-go, multi-tasking mix of living and working. My concepts try to balance an attitude of refined eating with constant dynamic movement. Click on image for larger view.

Notes on Posting Projects by Scott

November 13, 2009

Hi All!

A few suggestions about format here, so our blog stays tidy. First, I recommend that you compile your concepts into a single 8.5×11 page in photoshop at 72dpi (screen rez). I’ve uploaded some examples and suggest that you include your name, project name and some description on the page.

Here’s how to post it:

1. Log in

2. at the top of the site, go to New Post

3. At the pop-up window goto upload/insert, click on ‘image’.

4. A select file window opens, find yr file and select it.

5. There’s two specifications you need to add in this section. Under ‘Link URL’ choose the ‘File URL’ button. (This lets you click on the image in the post to see it full size).

Under Size choose medium.

6. At the bottom of that window click ‘insert into post’. You should be done. You can check you post in the site. You can always go back and edit it if needed or add a comment.

Please be patient and give it a try. I look forward to seeing your work.



Fast Company interview w/ Alberto Alessi

October 2, 2009

This new article may shed some light on how Alessi chooses product ideas for production.

Next Steps

October 1, 2009

Scheduled next steps:

Nov. 15th – All preliminary product proposals should be posted on this blog for group feedback and critique.

Jan. 15 – All final proposals must be posted to the blog AND forwarded to Scott for a compiled presentation to deliver to Alessi. 

Scott K.