Alessi 9090: Polish
Published by Dwell

A series of sandblasting, polishing, and buffing techniques transform the surfaces from crudely industrial to kitchen-ready. In a room of craftsmen, motorized wheels spin brushes, against which gloved hands hold pieces firmly in place. On rough bristles and then fluffy buff materials, each piece goes from hazy to gleaming. Making stainless steel shine like silver has been crucial to Alessi since its 1921 beginnings, when silver still defined table setting.

A worker stops to examine his progress while working with a 9090 component on a buffing wheel. Natural light and a keen eye are crucial when polishing stainless steel to a high gloss.

Components too small for wheel-type polishers are placed in vats of gentle abrasives—including nutshells and corn–that jiggle for 6 to 18 hours. The abrasives turn black, coated in steel dust; the components come out with their burred edges softened.

Smaller components of the 9090, for which wheel-type polishing is inefficient, are pulled from a vat. The machine contains gentle abrasives that slowly smooth the rough surfaces of the metal pieces.

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