A mass of messy Massimos



A recently acquired stack of Massimo Vignelli's plastic dinnerware for Heller. We already have more of this than we'll ever need, but these were the rare, earlier Italian-made designs, including the cup and its notoriously designed coffee-spilling handle. Messy, but still, a classic. The handle was redesigned soon after- in his book, Vignelli blames the Americans: Heller Stacking Cups, 1970:

 "The cups are stackable and the handles, conceived as a projection of the cup's walls, have a "hole" at the top generated by their form. As it happens, people in the United States tend to fill their coffee cups to the rim; the coffee would consequently flow out of the cup onto the handle, the flat saucer, and finally onto the table. What a shame! Of course this mess could be easily avoided if one filled the cup to a more elegant level below the handle "hole". That, however, was asking too much of the consumer, so the "hole" was filled. This was okay, but somehow was like pulling the wings off a butterfly: all you have left is a bug."

I think this is a little harsh, as obviously there's a difference between how Italians and Americans make their coffees. 
But it is a bummer- if the design is good enough to be in the MoMA and the Met, why do you need to change it? Although I can't imagine the MoMA restaurant ever serving coffee in them- there might be a collection reconsideration... 


But, if the lids were meant to double as candle holders, we're back in business....

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1 comment:

Kelly said...

Funny, I came across these today. The originals and the 'fixed' ones in the same shop. I preferred the originals but could completely see if you were a little zealous with the coffee pouring you would surely have a mess.