‘Max le Chinois’ colander by Philippe Starck for Alessi

Made by Alessi in Italy, Europe, 1989-1999.

‘Max Le Chinois’ was a ‘classic’ of product design of the 1990s intended for the section of the international market patronised by young, professional middle classes. Its innovative design, associated with postmodernism, is exemplified by the colander’s large scale, ‘futuristic’ form, computer-controlled machine-cut ornaments and humour (note decoration below the rim). The colander is a fine example of Alessi’s products designed by ‘star’ designers. Similarly to other popular Alessi wares design...


Object No.


Physical Description

Colander, 'Max le Chinois' and packaging, stainless steel cardboard, designed by Philippe Starck, made by Alessi, France/ Italy, 1989-1990s

A large polished stainless steel vessel in the form of a tall, inverted bell; the body punched with round holes of two sizes forming a chequered pattern, which terminates just below the rim in a perforated frieze of stylised smiling faces with long curved horns. Supporting the vessel are three flattened gold coloured ovoid feet, attached to the base at a 45-degree angle. At the top, there is a prominent lip. Inside, an inverted black plastic dome acts as a liner. The maker's mark is at the centre of the base.



Design commissioned by Alessi from Philippe Starck as part of the 1986 Solferino project. This project was a result of Alessi's collaboration with Francois Burkhardt from the Centre de Creation Industrielle at the Beabourg in Paris. Burkhard was considering an Alessi show in Paris, with a French component, and several French architects were selected to provide designs. 'Apart from Starck' writes Alberto Alessi ('Alessi the design factory', 1998, p.101) 'none of the other figures were able to come up with interesting results...'. Four Starck articles were put into production between 1989 and 1990: the kettle 'Haroun Vulcano'(Hot Bertaa), the 'Juicy Salif' lemon squeezer, the wall clock 'Walter Wayle II' and the colander 'Max le Chinois'. The production of these four objects marked the beginning of Alessi's very successful collaboration with Starck.

Starck has borrowed the name for the colander 'Max Le Chinois' from the Philip K. Dick novel 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' (1968). (ref: B.Hiller, 'The Style of the Century', 1998, p.268).

Alberto Alessi about Starck: "I cannot help thinking of Starck as the 'designer terrible' of our decade. He is a living example of my dream: design, real design, is always highly charged with innovation towards the word of manufacturing trade, bringing results that need no longer be justified solely on a technological or balance sheet level. A true work of design must move people, convey feelings, bring back memories, surprise, transgress...in sum, it has to be poetic. Design is one of the most apt poetic forms of expression of our day. And I know that this great visionary still has plenty of surprises up his sleeve..." (A. Alessi, 'The Dream Factory, Alessi since 1921', 1998,p.74)

Produced by Alessi in Crusinallo, Italy, 1990s.


Alessi 1989-1999


Starck, Philippe null


Credit Line

Purchased 2000

Acquisition Date

8 June, 2000

Cite this Object


'Max le Chinois' colander by Philippe Starck for Alessi 2016, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 24 January 2018, <https://ma.as/9350>


{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/9350 |title='Max le Chinois' colander by Philippe Starck for Alessi |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=24 January 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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