Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Racist bottle stoppers

Although I admit they're cute, these bottle stoppers strike me as somewhat racist:
They are part of the "Chin Family" collection created by Stefano Giovanni for Alessi (one of my favorite homegoods designers.) It's all part of a joint project between Alessi and the National Palace Museum in Taiwan. Maybe it can't really be racist if the production was given the nod by the NPM, but I still find it a bit unsettling to have funny, slit-eyed Asian dolls on my wine bottle.



Image lifted from


Matteo Alessi said...

Dear flutterbyblue,

I appreciate your feelings and your point of view but my personal opinion is that since immemorial time man has taken inspiration from his (or his peers') shape and figure to create art or objects that have therefore very often looked human.
Our approach in this case was exactly the same and we rwally hope we didn't offend anybody.

By the way, as you suspected, the whole design has been discussed with and approved by the NPM of Taiwan.

My best regards
Matteo Alessi

flutterbyblue said...

Dear Mr. Alessi,

Thank you very much for your comment! I appreciate that you took the time to read this blog entry. I do love your products and will continue to support your company. No hard feelings!


J.S. said...

They are adorable in their own way, and probably have very little social baggage in taiwan, but as a person of asian ethnicity but no particular ties to asian culture, I certainly wouldn't bust these out in anything but the most familiar company -- those who would get a good laugh out of a self-consciously racist joke! If I do give in and order a set, (which I really, really might) I will use them for just that purpose -- and might even give them a little blush to show they've been dipping in the wine!

(And if I sound severe, just think how well it would go over if they instead had turbans, or big noses and yarmulkes, or were black with big curly hair -- the only group that's been truly racism-free in america for long enough for a non-farcical caricature to be universally appreciated are the french!)