Pulling up a chair at the table with Italy's champion of innovative design.
"What does the Alessi table look like today?" ponders Alessio Alessi, president of the Italian design firm. "I should start by saying that the family is spread around the world." He and his wife, Giuliana, live on the Lago Maggiore, their sons Giovanni and Luca are located in Hong Kong, daughter Francesca opened a restaurant in St Tropez last year and son Tommaso works in Bologna. Wherever they are, they like to check out the local eats, and they also like to put the company's designs through their paces. "From this everyday use we might suggest some little functional improvements," says Alessi.
The big meal for the family is Christmas together in Italy at Nonna's house ("fully equipped, of course, with different Alessi objects"). The famiglia Alessi, he says, puts great stock in good food. The big meal might run from mascarpone and walnuts, beef tongue and salsa verde, salmone in bellavista, and white-truffle risotto to the hearty likes of pork knuckle with lentils, beef fillet with artichoke gratin, and rustisciada - thin slices of pork fillet, pork sausage, potatoes and onions, all cooked separately and then mixed together. "Nobody has ever been authorised to help my mother except for the first time this last Christmas," Alessi says. "With 35 children and grandchildren in attendance, Francesca and I had her approval to make some of the dishes."