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The Italian manufacturer Alessi, known for kitchen and household wares, launched a new project in 1980 by asking eleven architects to design tabletop sets. Known as the “Tea & Coffee Piazza” program, each was asked to design a tray to serve as a “piazza” (city square) with the vessels to stand like buildings on it.
As in his architecture, Michael Graves’s design for Alessi plays on classical Greco-Roman architectural forms, while introducing color and whimsy. Here the sterling silver vessels are square like buildings, not rounded like conventional coffee and teapots, and their surfaces are fluted like classical columns. This set designed by Graves became the best seller of the “Piazza” program.
Officina Alessi, Milan, Italy; purchased by the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2010.