Be honest. How much time have you spent on the phone recently? At home or on the train, during the evening meal or at your desk? Perhaps you are a passionate talker. I belong to that group myself, - and you know what? - we're on the increase. For ever online and reachable, thanks to the wondrous world of permanent communications - at a flat-rate tariff, of course - networked in a kind of endless loop, making a quick call here, a quick call there, just check with so-and-so again, leave a message, chat, explain, laugh and cry, send an SMS ....... The revolution of Communicative Man has affected all areas of life and all of life's moods. So we can look forward to a future full of amazing things. One day, Skype will serve lunch at the press of a button. We shall be able to have a quick look into the kitchen via a webcam beforehand, and arrange a brief chat session with the chef to order more chilli or coriander. With an additional charge on the basic account. Or perhaps a straight two year subscription?
Submerged by technology
Technology makes almost anything possible. But - and let's be honest just once more - what about the design to go with it? It has been clearly submerged by the flood of data and hardly exists any more in the communications jungle. No statement, no flair and hopelessly over-burdened users. Most telephones - and there are few exceptions even with mobile smart phones - always look the same; they resemble one another like clones to the point of yawning boredom. So perhaps the revolution was only successful from a technological point of view. There are only a few telephones that dare to be different. The new AlessiPhone is one of them - a cordless gem for home or office, that, unlike many of its cousins brings a new conception and creates a timeless, modern context for telephone conversations. In line with the futuristic nature of the entire communications field, it takes on affective codes and with them a number of metaphors of the future that are closely connected with it. The dynamically domed casing in poly-carbonate was created, like many other successful Alessi products, by the Italian designer Stefano Giovannoni. "A kind of Shuttle, that stands ready to launch messages," as Giovannoni himself describes his work. Gleaming white on the outside and black on the inside, the handset is laid on its narrow dish. In the centre of the piece, a hollow space between the base station and the movable handset ensures that the two parts of the telephone fit securely together. The two loudspeakers lie at the front and rear end of the handset. When this gleaming and marvellous object rings, its keys are illuminated. The OLED display is seamlessly integrated into the handset's casing and extends to some 65,000 colours. And the best thing about it is: when the AlessiPhone rings, it is not the usual tedious German ring tones or disco sounds that emerge from it, but quite unusual sounds that the Japanese DJ Gak Sato has devised specially for this unit, along with its graphic interface.
Neo-Pop for talking
The user instructions are superfluous, as this dynamic talk-station is self explanatory. It has a large directory, a caller list and built-in hands-free operation. There is nothing else, because this beautiful piece of everyday equipment concentrates on the essentials: telephoning. It has been developed by Alessi, together with Telecom Italia. A fantastically functional and, at the same time, simple piece of equipment, which, like many of Giovannoni's designs, comes with a kind of "Neo-Pop attitude", and does full justice to the digital age.
Just between you and me, my favourite activity now is telephoning from my desk, since the AlessiPhone has been sitting there. The smartphone with the similar name, which I use when out and about, just cannot offer the same degree of approachability and reduction to the essentials. A sophisticated telephone, that puts design in touch with technology and leaves nothing left to wish for.