In 1979 Alessi of Italy introduced a series of professional barware designed by Ettore Sottsass and Alberto Gozzi. Part of this series was the introduction of the first European Boston Shaker, now available in a gold-plated version at Amusespot.  Amusespot is publishing articles on the Programma, original materials, and a new interview with Mr. Gozzi, shown here.

Why did you feel that Barware needed to be re-evaluated from a design standpoint?

Before to answer this question, a short introduction is needed.

Alessi, founded in 1921 by Giovanni Alessi and producing high quality metal household objects, introduces design in its catalogue since the 30s with the son Carlo who designed many pieces for the catalogue (as for example the famous Bombé tea and coffee set) and the other son Ettore besides being the great technical expert,  started in the 50s’ the first external design collaboration. By the way, design definitely enters  the catalogue in the first 70s’ with Alberto Alessi (now President and Responsible of the Design Management) joining the company.

Since the beginning, in fact, Alberto feels the need to open the company to external collaborations with the main aim to add new languages to the collection and, in particular for product typologies (ex: baskets, trays ect) which were in the catalogue since many years and need to be re-interpreted through new approaches and different point of views. Since that time Alessi consciously goes in the ‘design’ direction starting a new chapter of its history.

Besides that, I have to highlight that, an other important and typical practice of this company is the one to ask the consultancy of the best experts to realise many of the projects. There’s a continuous research and discussion among designer, expert  and the company, to get the best possible result.

A great example of the above mentioned collaborations is represented by the series of objects for the bar designed by Ettore Sottsass with my consultancy.

In the 60s, I had in fact the opportunity to discover the ‘Boston’ shaker in the United States and, besides its perfect functionality features, after a research, I could find out that it was known neither in Italy nor in Europe.

So, this is the first reason why this kind of shaker needed to be redesigned.

Legend has it that it was created towards the end of the 19th Century by an unknown barman on board of a transatlantic liner sailing between Boston and Europe.

Since the barware has always been an important area in the Alessi production, I told of that shaker to Alberto Alessi who, finding the topic very interesting, thought to propose a briefing to Ettore Sottsass.

Since the very beginning Architect Sottsass accepted the difficulties of that project, understanding very well the importance of the functionality of this piece, a feature that could not be modified at all. So, without changing the functional features of it, he had the great ability to add a beautiful design to it. For the first time in Europe, a Boston shaker was realized functional and beautiful.

Besides that, Ettore Sottsass understood the importance to ‘complete’ this shaker with the necessary accessories: a strainer, a stirrer, a tray and ice bucket with togs creating a complete series.

The Alessi ‘5050’ or Boston shaker still today is considered the most professional type of shaker.

Gold Plated Ettore Sottsass Barware

Gold Plated Bar Set by Sottsass & Gozzi. At Amusespot.

What was the interaction between yourself and Sottsass during the development process. What were the primary concerns and disagreements during the process?

Working with Ettore Sottsass was an extremely precious experience and wonderful collaboration to me.

Our meeting and work on the ‘Boston’ shaker and its related accessories highlighted two distinct aspects of us: all what concerns functionality and details from my side and all what concerns design and beauty from Sottsass’. He has been able to design a beautiful object recognized on an international level both from a design standpoint and the professional one.

High recognition came in fact from I.B.A. (International Bartenders Association) and from A.I.B.E.S. (Italian Associazione Italiana Barman and Sostenitori) making the Alessi ‘Boston’ shaker protagonist of several events throughout the years.

Ettore Sottsass definitely brought a great added value: a true design maestro who easily accepted all the difficulties of that project bringing a new breath of inspirational performance into an area after all characterised by antique formalism.

Still today in every great and professional bar , the Alessi ‘Boston’shaker can’t miss at all!

Ettore Sottsass circa 1978
Ettore Sottsass, circa 1978.

Are there any regrets concerning the designs 30 years on? Anything missing? The lack of a proper muddler or cobbler shaker, perhaps?

No doubt on what it has done: 30 years ago, with the design of the bar series with high functional qualities, Alessi realised something that, at those times, was at the forefront.

I think that the problem today is linked to the fact that there is a lack of core values linked to the historic memory of what was and is the ‘Bar’. A dialogue between the bartender and the guests in the field is more and more missing today.

It would be interesting to do conduct a survey on American customers (like bars, discos, hotels…) and on the base of the new features collected realise a briefings which give a target to the company . On the base of the experience of 30 years ago and knowing the current development of globalisation, they could for sure realise something which goes one step forward.

After the ‘Boston’ shaker, and taking always for granted that in each bar this kind of shaker can’t miss, Alessi realised other beautiful shakers, with the collaboration other designers (as for example Ron Arad, Matteo Thun or Marc Newson); an evolution has been done in fact, through the research of something new but keeping fixed all the ‘Boston’ functional features.