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One of the most iconic and controversial kitchen utensils of the 1990s essentially took shape on a pizzeria's paper napkin: during the winter of 1988, while the French designer Philippe Starck was vacationing on a small Italian island, he was sitting in a deserted restaurant basically starving. Bored by the long wait he started sketching an odd object shaped like a long-legged creature with a big egg-head which turned out perfect to squeeze citruses. The Juicy Salif squeezer had just born. Is it a squid? Is it a UFO? Or maybe a space shuttle?
When talking about the item produced by Alessi , in 1990, Starck doesn’t mind saying: «Juicy Salif is not only about squeezing lemons, it’s about what we see in it, the way this micro-sculpture lets our imagination run wild. Someone even sees a phallic shape in it, something that I confess I didn’t think about. When someone asks ‘What is this?’ a conversation begins, and this is the scenario that drives me while designing such a bizarre object.»
The Juicy Salif squeezer was one of the first objects designed by Philippe Starck for Alessi. Alberto Alessi, president of the Italian design company of the same name, remembers: «I received a napkin from Starck, on it among some incomprehensible marks (tomato sauce, in all likelihood) there were some sketches. They started on the left, and as they worked their way over to the right, they took on the unmistakable shape of what was to become the Juicy Salif.»
A real object of design has to be able to move people, bring memories or surprise, be transgressive… At the end, it has to be poetic.
A truly iconic object and symbol not only of Philippe Starck, but of Alessi itself, this citrus squeezer continues to be one of the most provocatively intelligent articles within the Italian design company's catalogue. In 2000, to celebrate Juicy Salif’s tenth anniversary, Alessi created a gold-plated limited edition of Philippe Stark’s famous item to homage a kitchen utensil turned into a piece of art. It’s no coincidence that the squeezer is exposed in some of the world's most important design and contemporary art museums (New York’s MOMA, Paris’ Centre George Pompidou, Triennale in Milan just to name a few) and it makes its appearance on famous tv series and movies.