Design Shrines

Alessi retail stores

Followers of the more daring contemporary architects and tableware designers have two new meccas. Alessi, manufacturer of the iconic Michael Graves whistling-bird teakettle, opened two retail stores to showcase its finest dining and serving accessories, sleek Euro-style coffee and tea services, and kitchen tools. The first opened recently in San Francisco, and a second store has just debuted in Atlanta. "Alessi has always been incredibly popular in the United States, but the designs have never been shown as a complete collection in one store," noted Olivier Allegret, manager of the San Francisco shop. All of Alessi's greatest hits are on display in the stores, highlighting designs by trendsetters Ettore Sottsass, Richard Sapper, Aldo Rossi, Jasper Morrison, Frank Gehry, Robert Venturi, and Marc Newson.

Included in the virtuoso list are Richard Sapper's curvy new Cobán espresso and cappuccino maker, with a clear domed water tower ($599). It's Alessi's first electrical kitchen appliance for the U.S. market. Fans of Philippe Starck's visionary designs can order his quirky and elegant Juicy Salif citrus juicer (at right, the limited-edition 24-karat-gold-plated version for $199). And there's the triangular Il Conico teakettle by Aldo Rossi (right; $149). Elegant Mia and Tua stainless-steel pitchers by acclaimed Swiss architect Mario Botta have dynamic curved handles and promise a dripless pour, minus spouts ($250 a pair). London jewelry designer and sculptor Francesca Amfitheatrof's glamorous pierced stainless-steel bowl ($150) is also available in fashionable red lacquer ($110). For true design aficionados, the Alessi stores offer the ultimate service: They will order any piece from their vast design archives, and then have it delivered anywhere in the United States in about ten days. 424 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94108; 415-434-0403. 805 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA 30308; 404-724-0093.