British architect David Chipperfield has offered his take on the classic Italian coffee maker invented by Alfonso Bialetti in the 1930s.
Chipperfield’s Moka is a contemporary upgrade to the Moka Express, one of the most successful products to come out of Italy following the second world war.
Like the original, this espresso maker is made from die-cast aluminium and feature a distinctive faceted body. But it has a simple profile, with a flat lid and a fuss-free handle.
Italian design brand Alessi first revealed the design at the Maison&Objet homeware fair in Paris earlier this year but it will officially launched in Milan this month.
Bialetti was the maternal grandfather of Alessi founder Alberto Alessi. He developed his Moka in 1931, although it didn’t become a commercial success until more than a decade later, when his son Renato pushed it out to the international market.
The innovative design brews coffee by using steam to push boiling water through ground coffee.
Alberto Alessi describes the product as one of the earlier examples of Italian design.
He attributes its success to a number of factors – not only was it more efficient than using a pan, but also affordable to the masses. Plus, in the economic boom after the war, it benefited hugely from a widespread advertising campaign.
“The fact is, the Moka left its mark on the public, especially but not only in Italy, an effect that still lasts today,” wrote Alessi in an article for the brand’s magazine. “It formalised a new domestic ritual that was contemporary and intimate.”
Chipperfield is the latest in a series of prolific designers invited by Alessi to reinterpret the classic espresso maker, including Richard Sapper, Pierro Lissoni, Michael Graves, Michele De Lucchi and Aldo Rossi.
The architect said he was careful not to mess with the “familiar and generic” qualities of the object.
“How amazing that this complex and well-performing object has become readable and comprehensible, a machine that needs no instructions and no invitation to be part of domestic life,” he said.
“Its familiarity and its character are defined not only by its friendly silhouette but its soft grey materiality, the agreeable grinding noise that accompanies the simple mechanical screwing and unscrewing of its body.”
Chipperfield’s Moka is available in three sizes, ranging from 11 to 18 centimetres in height. It comes in a box featuring bold yellow and blue graphics, which form part of the product’s visual identity.