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Stairs Coffee Pot

This is a coffee pot. It was designed by Lino Sabattini and manufactured by Sabattini Argenteria S.p.A.. It is dated 1971 and we acquired it in 2008. Its medium is silver-plated metal. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Lino Sabattini is one of Italy’s leading silversmiths and designers. Sabattini is self-taught: he sharpened his sensibilities and craft while a young man during World War II, he assiduously read the design magazine Domus, and studied materials and metalsmithing techniques while working in a brassware shop. Sabattini later served an informal apprenticeship with the refugee German ceramist, Roland Hettner. It was during this period that Sabattini first became interested in shapes derived from the behavior of materials.
By 1955, he settled in Milan where he met Gio Ponti, who encouraged his design practice and exhibited his work the following year, which brought Sabattini to international attention. From 1956-63, while still active in Milan he was the Director of Design for Christofle Orfèvrerie, Paris. His silver designs during that period could be characterized as sculptural and free-flowing. Sabattini established his own manufactory in Bregnano, near Como, Italy, in 1964, and started to garner awards in that decade. His standards of quality and his individual approach to the language of design have made him one of the leading figures in Italian modernism.
The four vessels of Sabattini’s Stairs tea and coffee set play on the shapes of the circle and curved line, and how these simple geometric forms can be arranged in a variety of configurations. The wall of the sugar bowl is a simple cylinder, while the taller pieces are formed of convex and concave curves that allow the objects to nest in one another. Each piece is a different height. In one preparatory drawing, Sabattini shows the group in a tightly spiraled arrangement, the stepped vessel tops suggesting stairs. The circle theme is even carried through the curved handles. The effect of Sabattini’s geometric exploration is heightened by the highly reflective, unadorned curved and polished surface of silver-plated sheet metal.
Although the museum has examples of Sabattini’s metalwork, including his 1975 Centro bowl and the 1976 Estro sauceboat, accompanied by drawings for both, the Stairs set under consideration represents an earlier design. Stairs shows the interaction of multiple objects conceived as a suite—discrete design objects that form a composition when put together.

This object was donated by Arthur D. Liu. It is credited Gift of Arthur D. Liu.

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 18.1 x 14.6 x 1.9 cm (7 1/8 x 5 3/4 x 3/4 in.)

It has the following markings

On side, bottom (stamped): "Lino Sabattini" (signature), above: "COMPONIBILE S/30 COLLEZIONE SABATTINI BRAGNANO ITALY". On underside of base: logo (S (?) in circle)/"SABATTINI/ITALY"

Cite this object as

Stairs Coffee Pot; Designed by Lino Sabattini (b. 1925); Manufactured by Sabattini Argenteria S.p.A. (Italy); Italy; silver-plated metal; H x W x D: 18.1 x 14.6 x 1.9 cm (7 1/8 x 5 3/4 x 3/4 in.); Gift of Arthur D. Liu; 2008-37-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Stairs Coffee Pot |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=9 June 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>