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Design classics: Alessi 9093 Kettle

February 1, 2011

Since it’s introduction in 1985 the Bird kettle by Alessi, officially known as the 9093, has become a well deserved member of our Design classics series.  Designed by Michael Graves it was the first product by an American designer to be added to the Alessi range and over the last 25 years it has become the best-selling item in the Alessi catalogue.


Michael Graves has taught architecture in Princeton since 1962 and was asked to designed the kettle by Alberto Alessi, who took over the management of Alessi in the 1980’s.  This decade saw the company working with many international designers to increase their product line – some of the other designers they worked with included Alessandro Mendini and Richard Sapper.  To this day Alessi does not work with in-house designers as it believes that designers have greater creativity when they are not constrained by corporate rigidity, and their current catalogue demonstrates this with items from over 500 different designers.

The range of products designed by Michael Graves has evolved over the years and now includes a kitchen timer, a pepper mill and a sugar and milk jug set.  The original 9093 kettle is also available with an electric option rather than the original version but personally I don’t like it – the 9093 is so beautifully designed that the slight delay while boiling on a stove top is worth it!

The Bird Kettle has such a high status in the Design world that it can be found in many museums around the world including the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The purchase of the Bird Kettle may be considered as an investment as it retails for around £90 but as a proud owner for over 10 years I can honestly say it is money well spent, and if you buy one making a cup of tea will never be the same again.

My own well loved and much used 9093

This is the first of a monthly series, please comment below what you consider to be a design classic and we will be featuring a different one on the 1st of every month.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2011 2:20 pm

    Great blog post Andrew. I love this range, so modern, so retro, so timeless all rolled into one style. Having said that, someone recently told me that it takes a really long time to boil 😉

    • February 1, 2011 2:40 pm

      Well as I tell people you can’t make a quick cuppa, but this is definitely one kettle you should watch as it boils! Who cares if it takes a bit longer when it’s this beautiful!

      • February 1, 2011 2:46 pm

        I’d care , but then again I am a prolific tea drinker. It is much more beautiful than my kettle though.

  2. February 5, 2011 1:13 am

    Brilliant Post – loved it! I am with you the electric version looses the magic.

    Some suggestions on Design classics:

    Emeco 1006 (Navy Chair)
    CH24 (Wishbone Chair) by Hans Wegner
    Series 7 Chair by Arne Jacobsen
    Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen
    Spun Chair by Thomas Heatherwick
    Barcelona Chair by Van Der Rohe
    Wassily chair by Marcel Breuer

    LC2 Sofa by Le Corbusier
    LC3 Arm Chair by Le Corbusier
    LC4 Louge Chair by Le Corbusier

    Side Table by Eileen Gray

    Noguchi coffee table by Isamu Noguchi

    Anglepoise 1227 lamp by George Carwardine

    PH Artichoke pendant light by Henningsen

    Arco floor lamp with marble base by Castiglioni

    Hope that helps!

    • February 7, 2011 11:43 am

      Thanks for the long list of suggestions Oliver, some great product there – watch out for next months choice on March 1st.

      • February 24, 2011 4:45 pm

        Hi Oliver,
        thanks for including the Anglepoise Original1227 in your list!
        It is full of great designs which have stood the test of time.. here are a few more we really like:
        – Moka Express by Bialetti
        – 606 shelving system by Vitsoe
        – Brompton bicycle by Brompton
        Looking forward to the next design classics issue on adpinteriors!

  3. February 17, 2011 4:28 am

    Awesome post. Do you mind if I ask what your source is for this information?

  4. February 28, 2011 3:47 pm

    I would love to have this kettle. One day………

    • February 28, 2011 4:01 pm

      I am actually on my second one, had an accident with the first when I let it boil dry. It is beautiful though, choose this option – don’t go for the electric version.


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