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Designs with messages touch more hearts

Alessi’s Anna G Corkscrew (left) and Allesandro M. Corkscrew (Alessi)
Alessi’s Anna G Corkscrew (left) and Allesandro M. Corkscrew (Alessi)
Products with moving goals and stories become best-sell

The following is the seventh in a series of articles on design prepared in anticipation of the Herald Design Forum on Sept. 19-21. ― Ed.


I ♥ NY, the beloved image created by U.S. graphic designer Milton Glaser in the 1970s, became more popular than ever in the Big Apple after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

T-shirts and souvenirs bearing the logo, and also Glaser’s revamped version reading “I Love NY More Than Ever,” were frequently spotted in the city and worn and carried by tourists. The simple design consoled the New Yorkers deeply hurt from the attacks, creating a sense of unity at the most difficult time.

“In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains or the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service,” Steve Jobs, the founder of the design-oriented company Apple, had said.

Yes, in the age of overflowing designs, people look for products with designs that are not simply pretty, but also have a reason, deliver a message, tell a story and move hearts.

The fabric shoes of Toms, for example, are designed to be extra comfy for a reason. For every purchase made, the company delivers a pair of shoes to a child in need in poorer parts of the world.

Consumers agreed with the good aim enthusiastically. The “shoe drop” campaign, which started along with the establishment of the company in 2006, has delivered over two million shoes to children in South America, Africa and Asia. 
Blake Mycoskie (right), founder and chief shoe giver of Toms Shoes, delivers shoes to kids in Argentina in 2010. (Toms Shoes)
Blake Mycoskie (right), founder and chief shoe giver of Toms Shoes, delivers shoes to kids in Argentina in 2010. (Toms Shoes)

“Giving is what fuels us. Giving is our future. It’s the core of our business and it’s time we celebrate it,” said Blake Mycoskie, founder and chief shoe giver of Toms Shoes.

Italian homeware and kitchenware maker Alessi’ motto is to create affordable artworks that touch people’s hearts, rather than simple household equipment.

The best-known product is the Anna G Corkscrew, designed by Allesandro Mendini. It is in the shape of a shy girl in a gleeful smile, wearing a short hairdo and a vivid dress. The corkscrew was named after the girl Mendini was dating at the time, Anna Gili.

Happy with its artistic features that lighten up the kitchen, consumers made requests to the company to make the corkscrew a boyfriend. Nine years later, the Allesandro M. Corkscrew was born.

Imbued with a love story, the products have become the company’s undisputed best-sellers. Many other whimsical design products of Alessi, such as the Bird Kettle whose little bird on the tip of the kettle “sings” when the water boils, also gained popularity.

The small company established in a little town in Italy in 1921 has now grown into a giant, its annual sales reaching over 138 million euros every year in 60 different countries.

Alessi is not a kitchenware company, French industrial designer Philippe Starck once noted.

“Alessi is a merchant of happiness,” he said.

By Park Min-young  (claire@heraldcorp.com)
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