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2000/112/1 Vase and cover, '100% make up' series, porcelain, designed by Alessandro Mendini for Alessi Spa, Italy/ Germany, 1989-1992. Click to enlarge.

Vase and cover by Alessandro Mendini for Alessi

Alessi, one of Italy's leading design firms of the 1980s and 1990s, is best known for innovative design of domestic objects made in stainless steel, silver and, more recently, in plastics. In 1989 however, Officina Alessi acquired the rights to the 'Tendentse' project that concerned ceramics. Initiated in 1985 by Ettore Sottsass, Adolfo Natalini, Andrea Branzi and Alessandro Mendini, the project aimed at experimental research into handmade objects and their 'emotional content' which could inform and inspire the design production lines. Ceramics had been selected because of the ancient origins of the medium's forms, decorations and processes. The results of first experiments were objects forming the initial 'Tendentse' collection launched in 1989.

Following Alessi's acquisition of the 'Tendentse' project, experiments focussed on the ceramic vase, 'one of mankind's most ancestral wares' (A. Mendini, 'The 100% make-up', p.118, in: Alessi Design factory, 1994). In 1992, the firm released ten thousand vases from the 'The 100% make-up' series which formed a spectacular highlight of the 'Tendentse' collection. All vases were wheel-thrown and cast in white porcelain to one basic design by Alessandro Mendini. Identical in form, colour and material, they began their life as most of mass-produced objects do. The similarity ended there however, as the vases were then decorated with one hundred different designs commissioned from one hundred artists, architects and designers from Europe, Africa, Asia and America. Each design was copied on one hundred vases, each vase being individually numbered and marked with names of all contributing designers.

Due to overwhelming demand for vases decorated by particular designers, twelve designs were re-issued in an unnumbered edition (about 500 pieces of each design) also in 1992. Decorated by Mendini and bearing his signature on the base, this vase belongs to the later, unnumbered edition. Originally part of the collection of the Alessi Museum in Milan, the Mendini vase and a vase printed with a design by Michael Graves were presented to the Powerhouse Museum in the year 2000. They are excellent examples to illustrate Alessi's continuing quest for innovative design, product diversification and for producing objects with a distinct personality.


Object No.


Object Statement

Vase and cover, '100% make up' series, porcelain, designed by Alessandro Mendini for Alessi Spa, Italy/ Germany, 1989-1992

Physical Description

Vase and cover, '100% make up' series, porcelain, designed by Alessandro Mendini for Alessi Spa, Italy/ Germany, 1989-1992.

A porcelain vase of elongated bulbous shape, on a flared, round base, with a cover in the form of a conical hat with a high, round base. The exterior surfaces of the vase and cover are sprayed with gold paint. The interior surfaces and underside of the base are white. The designer and maker's marks are inscribed on the vase, underside of the base. The covered vase was produced as part of Alessi's '100% make up' series.



395 mm


135 mm



Shape and decoration designed by Alessandro Mendini for Alessi, 1989-1992.

Alessandro Mendini (b.1930), an Italian designer and writer, was co-founder of the radical design group Global Tools in the 1970s. He was also a member of Studio Alchymnia and editor of Casabella (1970-76) and Domus (1976-85) and since 1979 has been editor of Mondo.

Mendini began working with Alessi in the late 1970s, his first project being the book and exhibition 'Domestic Landscape' which investigated the company's history. Following these projects, Mendini became Alessi's design consultant. His belief in expansion and collaboration with international designers, played a key role in shaping Alessi's future as a leading Italian firm producing innovative domestic objects often designed as 'families'. Among other objects Mendini designed for Alessi are 'Peyarno' chocolate box in silver (1990) and his extremely successful 'Anna G' corkscrew (1994).

Produced in Germany

Alessi acquired the 'Tendentse' project in 1989. The project produced the 'The 100% make up' series from which vases were released in 1992.



Initially part of the collection of the Museo Alessi in Crusinallo, Italy.


Credit Line

Gift of Alessi Spa, 2000

Acquisition Date

11 October 2000

Cite this Object


Vase and cover by Alessandro Mendini for Alessi 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 September 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Vase and cover by Alessandro Mendini for Alessi |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 September 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}


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