Even the work of design rock stars gets rejected. Just ask Zaha Hadid, Toyo Ito, Philippe Starck, Ettore Sottsass, and the myriad other famous designers whose never-produced works are on view in In-Possible by Alessi, a new exhibit at Israel’s Design Museum Holon. It features sketches, renderings, and prototypes for more than 50 proposed designs from 1921 to 2012 that never went into production at the storied Italian housewares and kitchen utensils company.
Many of the products, culled from the Alessi Museum collection in Omegna, Italy, prove that rejection doesn’t mean design is “bad.” There are sketches for an elegant collection of glasses by Toyo Ito, with hexagonal bases that gradually morph into rounded brims; concepts for a jagged geometric vase by Zaha Hadid that seems to defy gravity; and a sketch by Denis Santachiara for a coffee maker with a hot pink handle, an unusual pop of color on what’s often a drab appliance. “The reasons why they have been gradually set aside can be more or less summed up as follows: Oftentimes their execution presented insurmountable difficulties, less frequently their cost production was too high, sometimes our company was too timid to introduce them on the market, but–I am glad to report–almost no design was intrinsically too weak,” Alberto Alessi, president of the company, said in a statement.
Still, in some cases, it’s easy to see why a design didn’t make it into the world. A prototype for a jewelry piece from the influential architecture studio Future Systems looks like a skinny metal seatbelt with a giant gaudy flower for a buckle. And a spider-like bowl design by Scott Henderson, while visually arresting, wouldn’t be very good for holding anything much smaller than a kumquat.