Tea and Coffee Service Designer: Michael Graves (American, 1934–2015)
Manufacturer: Alessi S.p.A. (Italian, founded 1921)

Designed 1984, Manufactured 1985

American Decorative Arts

On view, 3rd floor, Modern and Contemporary Art and Design

In the last three decades, many architects have achieved celebrity status. This sterling silver tea-and-coffee set by American architect Michael Graves is part of a series commissioned from famous architects by the Italian manufacturer Alessi. It exemplifies a playful form of postmodernism, self-consciously using historical design cues in a whimsical manner. The fluted bodies make reference to Neoclassical silver designs, while conical lids with smokestacklike finials and bright blue spheres give each piece of the service an architectural feel reminiscent of Graves's designs for buildings. This set, one of the first products designed by Graves, was intended for an elite group of consumers, but his subsequent designs have been mass-produced and are now available to a wider audience.


Sterling silver, off-white and black plastic, blue enamel


10 3/4 × 17 1/2 in. (27.305 × 44.45 cm)

Credit Line

Funded by Jeannette Cressler, the Mabel Brady Garvan and Hanna Funds, the Barra Foundation, Mrs. Alfred E. Bissell, the Dobson Foundation, Virginia and Leonard Marx Foundation, Dr. and Mrs. Matthew Newman, and Mr. Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., B.A. 1960, in honor of Mrs. Charles F. Montgomery

Accession Number



20th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.

  • Susan B. Matheson, Art for Yale: A History of the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2001), 100–101, fig. 96
  • Elise K. Kenney, ed., Handbook of the Collections: Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 113, ill
  • "Acquisitions 1985–1987," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 40, no. 2 (Spring 1988), 50, 53, ill
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

coffee services, tea services


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