The Look for Less: Alessi and WMF wire baskets
One is a classic; the other is a copycat.
Simple, elegant and functional, the Alessi 826 wire basket in mirror-polished stainless steel has been a tabletop staple since its introduction in 1976. Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, the version that's 8 inches in diameter sells for $100.
Now, the iconic bread basket has a lookalike: The round wire bowl by Danish designer Ole Palsby is part of the Concept collection, pieces of which won an International Forum Design award in 2000. It is manufactured by WMF, a German metalware firm founded in 1853. The bowl is constructed from the same cookware-grade 18/10 stainless steel used in the Alessi basket. Measuring 8 1/4 inches in diameter, it costs $45.
How can you tell them apart? Keep reading to find out which is which ...
The Alessi 826, above, is heavier but still has the fluidity of lines that defines midcentury Italian design. The basket's wires are woven through holes in the base and welded almost invisibly to the top rim. The base flares and extends slightly, as you might see on a cake stand. It can be purchased at Alessi stores; here in Los Angeles, the store is at 301 N. Robertson Blvd.; (310) 276-7096. Modern-design retailers such as Unicahome also sell it.
By contrast, the WMF Concept wire bowl, above, has a simpler construction and a more streamlined profile. The individual wires, which are squarish as opposed to the round Alessi wires, are welded to the base and -- quite visibly -- to the exterior of the rim. It does not have a footed base. At $45, though, it's less than half the price of the Alessi bowl. The Concept collection also can be purchased at Unicahome, among other online retailers.
-- David A. Keeps
Photos: Alessi, WMF/Unica Home