Melbourne-based architectural firm, Denton Corker Marshall (DCM), designed this tea and coffee set for the Italian design company, Alessi, in 2002. Made from silver (black-chrome finish) and yellow thermoplastic resin, it is one of twenty-two tea and coffee services in a series 'Tea & Coffee Towers' released by Alessi in 2003. Twenty-two internationally acclaimed architectural firms form Europe, Asia, Australia and the USA, which Alessi considered to be 'fundamental to the debate on contemporary design', were each commissioned to design one set in the series. The project followed Alessi's highly influential 'Tea and Coffee Piazzas' project of eleven postmodern tea and coffee sets designed by Italian and international architects in 1983.
Previewed at the 8th Biennale of Architecture in Venice in 2002, 'Tea and Coffee Towers' demonstrated many different and innovative solutions to a single design brief. Alessi required the sets to consist of a teapot, coffee pot, milk jug, sugar bowl and tray, and to develop from 'experimental research, free from the limits usually imposed by industrial mass production'. DCM met Alessi's challenge by creating a micro skyscraper for the table. The design closely relates to the firm's exploration of ideas such as ' how tall can we build, how far can we project', and was directly inspired by their Abu Dhabi tower designed in 1998. When not is use, the set forms a table centrepiece in the form of 'tower'. It dismantles into individual components for use.
Set up in 1972 by John Denton, Bill Corker and Barrie Marshall, the award-winning architectural firm of DCM has designed buildings around the world. Their 'Tea & Coffee Tower' complements the Museum's Alessi collection, particularly the 'Tea & Coffee Piazza' that Aldo Rossi designed in 1983 and its broader holdings of contemporary design as an exmple of architecture-inspired tableware design from one of Australia's leading architectural firms.
Eva Czernis-Ryl, Curator, 2005