American Decorative Arts
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Designer: Michael Graves, American, 1934–2015
Manufacturer: Alessi spa, Italian, founded 1921

Tea and Coffee Service

Designed 1984, Manufactured 1985

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

10 3/4 x 17 1/2 in. (27.305 x 44.45 cm)
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
1985.91.1.1-.6
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.
Culture: 
Italian
Period: 
20th century
Classification: 
Containers - Metals
Geography: 
Made in Milan, Italy
Status: 
On view
Bibliography: 

“Acquisitions 1985–1987,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 40, no. 2 (Spring 1988): 50, 53, ill.

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 113, ill.

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.

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 such records is ongoing.