February 8, 2013
Many architects have teamed up with product companies to create luxe objects for everyday life: Frank Gehry alone has designed boots for French shoemaker J.M. Weston, jewelry for Tiffany’s, and plastic chairs for Heller.
But Peter Zumthor, the reclusive Swiss architect who has achieved cult-like status, always seemed above this type of collaboration. His portfolio mainly consists of small-scale civic, religious, and cultural buildings in Europe—all exquisitely crafted using natural materials such as wood and stone. His singular work is intense, awe-inspiring, and at times, a bit creepy (anyone visited his “witch memorial” in Norway?). This man of mystery has earned innumerable honors, including the 2009 Pritzker Prize and, most recently, the 2013 RIBA Gold Medal.
But prestige does not always bring in the big bucks, and Zumthor might actually need cash. First came news that he was tapped to design a house for the movie star Tobey Maguire. Then we heard that he’s renting out his vacation home in Switzerland. And now we learn that he’s jumped on the products-by-architects bandwagon and designed condiment containers for the Italian brand Alessi. Made of frosted glass and stainless steel, the collection features various-sized salt and pepper shakers and cruets for oils and vinegars. Read more.