Philippe Starck doesn’t need much introduction, right?
If his name means nothing to you, then you must surely know some of his creations: some of his products have become easily recognisable icons to all of us.
A cult piece amongst the cult? The juicer Juicy Salif.
Born in Paris in 1949, Philippe Starck is considered one of the most important European designers and beyond. He is the one who created design in France, as before him there weren’t any big names in this sector.
Starck is a self taught genius who as he says himself, owes his creativity to his precious paternal inheritance:
«My father was an inventor, he designed aeroplanes, and the legacy he left me when he passed away, was not lots of money as is with many aviation designers but he left me the opposite – he left me with the idea that one of the most beautiful crafts you can do is a creative. With creation one can carry out an inner search and work on oneself. When he was creating his aeroplanes, he taught me an important and precious thing: to make a plane fly, first you have to create it, but in order for it to not fall, you have to be rigorous».
Starck is an intelligent and cultured designer who I particularly appreciate both in terms of product design and architecture because he is known for being free from rules and conformities when he designs designs but at the same time he is completely disciplined and professional.
I like the irony, the playfulness and the desire Starck has to amaze others but above all I like him, the man and his creations.
It is this feeling of amazement that he creates which I feel is so important, alive and engaging. I think it’s wonderful to be able to create passion and enthrall people with your work.
In short, Starck has a truly unique talent.
So, let’s be inspired by one of his creations (which you have already seen above): the juicer Juicy Salif, distributed by Alessi since 1990. It is more than 30 years old now!
It is a timeless icon, just think it is on permanent exhibition at the MoMa in New York. But it’s not just an icon: the juicer is the most controversial juicer in history.
The fact that it is not very functional is not in dispute: the pointed legs can scratch the work surfaces, it doesn’t squeeze much juice from the fruit, and most of the little juice that it does squees ends up following the path of the legs, creating pools of juice on the work surface.
Therefore, it’s a very interesting fact that despite all its functional problems, the juicer continues to be one of the most successful items in the Alessi catalogue.
It’s this very point that has been fortunate for Alessi: They like many, appreciate and promote the beauty and genius of this object, regardless of its functionality.
In fact, I don’t think i’ve ever squeezed even one orange with my Juicy Salif, I just consider it to be an amazing ornament!
Umberto Eco also spoke well of it during a course held at the University of Bologna in 1998: He considered it to be a very special example of a decorative, man-made piece as in most other cases the decorative element is less evident.
It’s Starck who tells us how this object was born:
«I was with my family in a pizzeria on the island of Capri in Tuscany. The inspiration came to me whilst I was squeezing lemon juice on my squid».
That’s exactly it, the first drawing of the Juicy Salif was on a paper placemat in the pizzeria, inspired by the lemon on my squid.
The placemat was promptly sent to Alberto Alessi, who evidently appreciated the sketches.
In short, although it can’t do the job that it was designed to do, the juicer has a particular effect on me. In fact I believe the Juicy Salif should be appreciated for its originality, shape and aesthetics rather than its functionality.
Photo cover credits: cassina.com