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Interview|McKinsey Quarterly

Managing innovation: Pages from Alessi’s handbook

A three-part multimedia feature explores how design firm Alessi manages innovation—from working with collaborators, to how design constraints help shape products, to assessing new innovations’ potential.

April 2009

In its 80-year history, Italian design firm Alessi has evolved from a local housewares factory into an international organization, collaborating with well-known designers including Michael Graves, Aldo Rossi, and Philippe Starck. By working with hundreds of outside designers, Alessi has produced a wide range of houseware products and has extended its innovative hand into other areas, such as watches, textiles, phones, and cars.

In this interactive feature, a narrated slide show takes you through Alessi’s history of collaborating with designers and the creative approach behind its innovations. Next, a video interview with CEO Alberto Alessi brings you deeper into the development process; Alessi explains how working with constraints can help refine designs. Finally, an interactive graphic lets you navigate through his tool for assessing new designs. This formula, which Alessi developed himself to measure risk and success, is an interesting example of how one company is applying structured measurement to the creative process of innovation.

The original interview with Alberto Alessi was conducted by Marla Capozzi, an associate principal in McKinsey’s Boston office, and Josselyn Simpson, an editor with the McKinsey Quarterly. It was recorded at the Alessi factory in Crusinallo, Italy, in October 2008.


Managing innovation: Pages from Alessi’s handbook

This multimedia feature explores design firm Alessi’s formula for success.

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