If you like to cook you are probably very familiar with the products of Alessi. They are an Italian company that has been at the forefront of designer cookware and home accessories for more years than I can count.  I think just about everything they offer can be attributed to some famous product designer, most of which you probably will recognize if I were to list all of their names.

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Well, it turns out that this year is the 25th anniversary celebration of one of the most famous items from Alessi designed by Philippe Starck…now I know you recognize his name!  Twenty-five years ago he designed the iconic Juicy Salif, a product which is supposed to be used to gather juice from lemons, limes, oranges and the like. It is one sexy kitchen counter addition, tall and lean, with long legs that seem to make it balance almost precariously.

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The funny thing about the Juicy Salif is that many people purchase it ‘just because’ and never use it as a juicer.  According to Michael Cogo, who wrote a wonderful treatise called “Ten 25 years without squeezing a lemon” for Alessi, “…the primary function of the Juicy Salif is not to squeeze lemons but to stimulate conversation, as Starck  himself delineated  in a famous statement:

“It is not that it’s an excellent citrus squeezer, that isn’t its only function. I thought that when a couple marries, it is the type of thing they might receive as a wedding present. So, when the parents of the groom go to see him, he and his father sit in the living room having a beer in front of the TV while the new mother-in-law and the bride sit in the kitchen and try and get to know each other better. ” Look at this present we were given, says the new bride. And so they start chatting away.”

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Besides, as Cogo excellently points out, you could actually squeeze a lemon on the edge of a table, or even the Statue of David in the Louvre Museum in Paris!

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The Juicy Salif has become an iconic example of excellent design and has been featured on everything including the covers of global design books for children as well as adults.  In one children’s book, they depict the Juicy Salef as something  akin to an alien spaceship firing yellow rays down to earth!

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You will also find it as a popular tattoo, on the cover of a CD, in street art, in photos with animals or with people themselves. It certainly seems that Starck has achieved his original goal of sparking conversation and discussion. And, it is undoubtedly one of his most successful design objects.

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If you live in New York City, you might be familiar with the Alessi store located at 30 East 60 Street.  It is a sweet little store packed with all of the fabulous Alessi products…literally a design-museum of products for the kitchen. I love wandering around just to re-look at some of the classical products and to see what is the latest and greatest Alessi has put out on the market.

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BTW, my next purchase there: the Juicy Salif .  I am too much a design-junky not to own one in my own home!


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Ciao, ciao ’til next time!