Don't hate me because I'm beautiful: Why kitchen tools don't need to be ugly
Posted by Jane De Graaff on May 05, 2011.
Food Guru asks designers why they develop products that look good as well as help out in the kitchen.
When was the last time you looked in your pantry and thought ‘I don’t know why I keep that spatula/juicer/whisk/insert-other-kitchen-item-here, it’s terribly ugly and it doesn’t really even work.’
It’s the age-old debate between form and function; do you get it because it looks pretty, or do you get it because it just does the job. And do the two really have to be mutually exclusive, or can form and function walk happily hand-in-hand?
“Absolutely! [They can work together]” Says Karianne Maley, Creative Director at Make My Day Products- Ideas from Australia.
“Make My Day Products are 'gifts - with a function'. So a product that's good-looking immediately attracts attention and draws you in! I love the fact that all of our products can sit proudly out on the kitchen counter because they look good.” She says with enthusiasm.
Creating useful kitchen items that also have a great sense of style is something that the team at Make My Day takes very seriously.
“Our Vision is to create an affordable designer range of gifts that have a sense of fun with a practical application.” Says Maley.
“The tag line ‘Simple. Practical. Designed to make your day’ pretty much sums up what we have tried to achieve and is our litmus test. If you receive a Make My Day gift, you won’t be uttering sarcastically ‘oh …a lemon squeezer, thanks’. Instead, from the funky design and innovation of the product, to the presentation in the packaging, we want to evoke a feeling of happiness when you get that lemon squeezer as a gift!”
And the team at Make My Day aren’t the only designers drawing on the feel-good factor to enhance useful products.
At Jessie Steele they’ve been making waves right around the world with the novel idea of practical aprons that actually look good, turning the necessity of a pinni into a fashion accessory in it’s own right.
“We design and create all of our textiles in-house, so each one is original.” Says Tim Bayless, Vice President of Marketing at Jessie Steele.
“Each season we come up with a few inspirations. Many of them come from travel, books we have read, or the current runway looks. This season for Spring (in the US) 2011 we found inspiration after a trip to the city of Paris and the vintage flea markets that are scattered around the city. We’ve also woven into our textiles the heirloom vintage nostalgia that reminds us of cooking with our Grandmother in the kitchen.”
This combination of practical and pretty has been such a big hit that Jessie Steele aprons have appeared on TV shows including Desperate Housewives and Oprah. The key to the aprons success according to Bayless is the absolute melding of form and function.
“We have taken great pride over the years that we have been able to combine the vintage feel and look of aprons from eras ago, while updating the cuts to be flattering on the modern woman.” Says Bayless.
“People always want to look good don’t they? But they also want function. It helps save time and energy, both of which many people are looking to save in this modern world.”
And at Make My Day, they certainly agree.
“What we try to do in our design is to give it a bit of personality and a multi-function where possible. We also want our product to hit an affordable price point so that it's an achievable purchase.” Says Maley, but it seems the greater design community is yet to catch on.
“I can't speak for others, but I think in order to be successful in a very crowded market you need to find a niche that works for you. I believe that being a 'gift with a function' is unique and that's why the response to our approach since we began trading in January 2008 has been phenomenal.”
So next time you go looking for that perfect rolling-pin/olive-pitter/icecube-tray and you’re weighing up between ‘use or ornament’, don’t short change yourself thinking that you can only have one or the other. There’s a bunch of designers out there that think you can have both, so don’t settle for anything less.
Note: At Food Guru we believe all our products are both pretty and practical.