"I like irony, I like to play a game, I like to stay far away from rhetoric: that’s the reason why I let the objects I design express all these ideas, turning them into a sort of toys you can use even though you’ve grown up."
With these words, Alessandro Mendini, Italian architect, designer and artist – one of the protagonists of the renewal of Italian design in the 80s under the name of "Neo-modernism"- describes the mood that inspired him whille he created one of the most iconic kitchen design utensils: Anna G., a corkscrew in the shape of a woman.
My projects grew out not so much out of signs,
as of words in the form almost of visual poetry
Projected for Alessi – the famous Italian contemporary design houseware company - in 1993 and released the following year, this fun bottle opener was modeled by Alessandro Mendini after the female body: you have to turn Anna’s “head” to insert the screw, while her “arms” rise along the body and the vintage dress she wears.
Her smiling face, nice eyes and the peculiar haircut, make this corkscrew a “design portrait”: “This play on the portraiture of design is something I like very much,” says the author.
The facial expression and the thin, long-limbed body Mendini designed for the bottle opener probably is ispired by the artist and designer Anna Gili, Mendini and Alessi’s good friend, that gave the name to the corkscrew.
The concept is also an homage to childhood, when an everyday objects like a bottle opener could come alive and be turned into a little dancing doll: “The corkscrew of Alessandro Mendini made me feel less alone – told Elizabeth Glickfeld, co-author of the book 100 Ideas That Changed Design – She was smiling to me, her mouth expressed a childish joy: it brought me back to times when I was a child, when I milled during my parents parties, and I would have picked that corkscrew and would have twisted on the tablecloth”.
Almost twenty years after its first release, the corkscrew Anna G. is still produced in a wide range of colors and materials, even with decorations in limited editions (Anna Etoile) . Her smiling face has become something of a cult figure, giving birth to a small family of objects: together with some stoppers, Alessandro Mendini designed in 2003 a second character, Alessandro M., a man-shaped bottle opener. It’s obvious that it’s a self-portrait of the designer, maybe just a little envious of the huge success achieved by Anna G.
Or maybe it was just a way to let the game going on: “I had a long childhood – says Mendini – I don’t even know if it’s over”.