Philippe Starck

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Whilst a designer cannot be defined by one of their designs, Phillipe Starck’s “Juicy Salif” is definitive of an era when form and function were not mutually incompatible but certainly pushed boundaries. It’s designer has proved to be one of the most versatile and influential on an entire generation – or two – of consumers.

As many readers will know, I used to live and work in Paris in the early 1980’s for an international law firm housed on the Champs Elysees. I was intoxicated by Paris but it was not all Pastis and Gitanes. I knew of the young Parisien designer, Phillipe Starck, who had been appointed as Art Director to the furniture business of the House of Pierre Cardin, a client of the firms, but couldn’t have anticipated his impact on my World.

Starck was born 18th January 1949, after studying at the prestigious product and interior design École Camondo on Paris’ Left Bank, he worked for Adidas and founded his own design business Starck Design/Ubik. This led to his work with Alessi – see our previous post on the power house of Italian Design  – Alessi Bollitore kettle  in 1990, Starck designed the Juicy Salif for Alessi.

It is said that the idea came to Starck whilst having lunch on the Amalfi coast. He realised that his plate of calamari hadn’t been dressed by lemon juice and had an idea. He scribbled some thoughts onto a napkin that is now preserved at the Alessi Museum. Some say that the Juicy Salif is a triumph of form over function in that it’s said it doesn’t work that well …. for Starck, he is rumoured to have said: “It’s not meant to squeeze lemons, it is meant to start conversations.”

Early projects included the refurbishment of the interior of newly elected President Mitterand’s apartment at the Elysee Palace, followed by the interior design of the iconic Cafe Costes in Paris in 1984, for brothers Jean-Louis and Gilbert Costes, a design which included the now celebrated leather and bent-wood, Costes Chair.

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By the late 1980s Starck was designing environmentally sensitive buildings in Japan including the 1989 “Nani, Nani” and in 1990 the Asahi Beer Hall in Tokyo.

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The late 1990’s into the new Millenium saw Starck heavily involved in the revitalization of the hotel sector with signature projects in New York with Ian Shrager’s “Paramount”

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The Delano in Miami and in London, The Sanderson. The latter is sympathetically based in the Grade II listed 1950’s Reginald Uren’s designed building at 50, Berners Street, London W1 that until 1992 housed the showrooms of Arthur Sanderson’s fabric business deep in London’s Rag Trade area.

Starck interest in things nautical has led to commissions to design some of the world’s most stunning yachts including two “A” motor and sailing yachts for Russian Billionaire, Andrey Melnichenko.

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Starck’s more recent work has involved designing four e-bikes in partnership with Mousthache Bikes, customized to the environment of use including snow and sand….

and the Pibal cycle for the City of Bordeaux.
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UK TV viewers may recall the 2009 BBC2 series fronted by Starck “Design For Life” reality TV show. Over a number of weeks selected Design Students were encouraged – and sometimes railed on by the Gallic Starck – to revive an English passion for design. The weakest were iliminated and the winner was given a six month placement at Starck’s Paris office. Arriving on set with his wife riding pillion on his motor bike, Starck clearly engaged with a UK audience. A fluent English speaker, you were left wondering whether his elaborate pronunciation was part of an act. Excellent TV, but it didn’t make a second series.

Would you like to add a Juicy Salif to your kitchen? If so, click on the Amazon link below the image of the Juicy Salif

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Alessi Juicy Salif Citrus Juicer

Image Credits – with grateful thanks – Starck Network, Moustache Bikes and Alessi

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Holiday Breakfast

Dualit Combi 3

Late last week we escaped to the City for a few days in London. Extraordinarily beautiful at most times of the year but at Christmastime London is awash with street lights – Regent Street’s were particularly stunning – the slight hint of wine flavoured with cinnamon and a warm uplifting spirit.

Regent St Angels

Whilst family time was precious and the opportunity for a little lazing about minimal, as major retail therapy was required, the best start to any day – a good breakfast – was essential. The kitchen was particularly well stocked but a visit to the wonderful Paul’s bakery in South Kensington for fresh croissants was vital.

A brief dip into Aestheticons and we will guide you in the ways of carefully combining and judiciously using a number of  iconic items to make the perfect Holiday Breakfast.

Pretty much any bread, however “day-old”, can be improved by toasting. A Dualit toaster – please see our earlier posts here Dualit Toaster is brilliantly controllable, sturdy and iconic design. Mine over twenty years old but is still fully functioning.

Why not get your own Dualit by clicking this AMAZON link for a 2 plus Combi toaster Dualit Combi 2+2 Toaster 42174 – Polished

A Four Slice Toaster DUALIT 4 Slice Vario AWS Toaster Polished Stainless Steel 40378

Or a Six slice toaster Dualit 6 Slice Toaster 60144 – Polished

Of course you can boil water in all manner of ways but none is more stylish than an Alessi kettle – Please see our earlier post here Alessi Bollitore kettle An Alessi Bollitore Kettle is an icon of design and practicality as vibrant today as when first designed in 1983 Officina Alessi Hob Kettle with Steel Bottom, Silver

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Mornings are for Coffee and Afternoon’s are for tea….

One of the very best quick coffees comes courtesy of Nescafe Original Decaffeinated – Nescafe Decaffeinated Instant Coffee 100g If time is not pressing, then freshly brewed coffee cannot be beaten. If coffee is not your thing then I cannot more highly recommend an amazing tea Fortnum & Mason’s Assam Superb – please see our earlier post here Fortnum & Mason’s Assam Superb

Using a Bialetti Moka coffee pot – please see our post here Bialetti Moka Coffee Pot make perfect coffee when combining with Lavazza’s Decaffeinato Coffee – please see our post here Lavazza Caffè Decaffeinato By clicking here you could add a Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker, 6 Cup to your kitchen. Please try this beautiful coffee – Isn’t “Lavazza” Italian for coffee? Lavazza Caffe Decaffeinato Ground Coffee 250g

Serving coffee or tea in a perfect cup is very important. A Falcon enamel mug is both beautiful and practical – please see our earlier post here Falcon Enamelware  Get your own Falcon enamel mug – or two – by clicking this link 1 x Falcon Enamelware Mug, Heavy Gauge (White with blue rim). 9cm

Aside from salt free butter, the perfect spread for your toast has to be Bonne Maman Blackcurrent preserve – please see our earlier post here Bonne Maman Jam Bonne Maman Blackcurrant Conserve Jam, 370g

For those of you who prefer salty to sweet then on top of cool butter Marmite is simply perfect – please see our earlier post here Marmite A big jar of Marmite should always be in your kitchen cupboard – get one here Marmite Yeast Extract Paste in a Glass Jar , 500g

Do you know what, if its a weekend and you are feeling a little indulgent why not order and make a perfect Bloody Mary –  please see our post  Lea & Perrins – the vital ingredient in a Bloody Mary which contains both the recipe for the best Bloody Mary ever it also gives you all the links to enable you to gift a Bloody Mary pack to a deserving friend, colleague or other half!

Go on, enjoy …. and make the most of those chilly holiday mornings….

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Images courtesy of Dualit, Alessi, Fortnum & Masons, Bialetti, Lavazza, Falcon Enamelwear, Bonne Maman and Marmite.

Lancia Fulvia Coupé

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There are several well known, even iconic brands, particularly in the automobile and fashion businesses, that having been subsumed into larger acquirers and, subsequently, shelved. A good example of this is Lancia, now part of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA Italy) conglomerate.

Their most recent car, the Lancia Ypsilon – based on the Fiat 500 platform – was re-branded in 2014 for the UK and Irish markets as a Chrysler. In 2017, it was announced that the Chrysler brand would no longer be used in the UK and Irish markets! It seems unlikely that the Lancia brand will be revived – which is a great tragedy.

I guess there’s a “dirt sticks” argument to the demise of Lancia for a UK audience. In the late 1980’s the Lancia Beta suffered greatly from sub-frame rust and corrosion issues so much so that they had to be repurchased by the company from disgruntled owners. Lancia withdrew from the right-hand drive market in 1994 selling their last model, the Lancia Delta, in 1995.

There have been some trophies among the mire, with a wealth of rally success but one particularly fine road going example is the iconic Lancia Fulvia Coupé.

Lancia & C. Fabbrica Automobili was founded in Turin in 1906 by former Fiat racing drivers, Vincenzo Lancia and Claudio Fogolin. The first Lancia was appropriately called “Alfa” and was produced between 1907 to 1908. Following Vincenzo’s death in 1937 his wife and son poached one of Alfa Romeo’s designers, Vittorio Jano, who oversaw a period of great innovation, including hydraulic dampers, five speed gearboxes, V4, V6 and V8 engines. Early vehicles were virtually handmade.

The business was sold to Fiat in October 1969 and there followed an era when Lancia’s claim to fame was in World Rallying.

The Lancia Fulvia was produced between 1963 and 1976 following its launch to great applause at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show.

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Like its predecessor the Aurelia, it took its name from a Roman Road; the via Fulvia being that stretch that ran between Tortona to Turin.

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The Fulvia was available as a Berlina (saloon) 4-door saloon – as above – (in 1972 as a V4 version), a 2-door Coupé, and Sport. Ugo Zogato’s team also designed and built a fastback coupé – based on the Coupé’s floorpan – and, in 1968, a prototype Zagato Sport Spider that debuted at the 1968 Turin Motor Show.

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The Fulvia Coupé was a compact two-seater coupé was initially equipped with a 1216 cc engine, delivering 80 bhp at 6000 rpm, this was gradually enlarged to a 1534 cc engine delivering 132 bhp. Designed by Lancia’s in-house designer, Piero Castagnero, the Fulvia had a shorter wheelbase than the Berlina and it was the last Fulvia model to be discontinued. It was replaced by the ill-fated Lancia Beta Coupé in 1977.

Lancia Fulvia 1

In 1971 the Lancia Fulvia Coupé Series II Coupé had a 1298 cc engine producing 90 hp (67 kW) at 6000 rpm. A special celebratory model was released in 1972 to celebrate Lancia’s Montecarlo Rally victory that year. An update Series 2 Coupe – becoming the Coupé 3 – was introduced in 1974 .

In 2003 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the Fulvia name was re-imagined in a concept from the Centro Stile Lancia headed by Flavio Manzoni. Sadly, the new Fulvia Coupé, with its distinctive brown leather interior, didn’t progress past prototype.

Lancia Fulvia 2003 Concept

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As Lancia Fulvia Coupe’s are increasing in value – may be you’d be happy to settle of a desk top but loyal die-cast model? Please click the Amazon link after the image.

There’s a choice – a red Lancia Fulvia Coupe in rally livery – please click the Amazon link below the image

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Lancia Fulvia Coupe Hf Rally Car Lampinen Andreasson 1/43Rd No1 Type Y0675J

Or in a beautiful dark blue – please click the Amazon link below the image

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BEST MODEL BT9645 LANCIA FULVIA COUPE’ 1300S 1967 DARK BLUE 1:43 DIE CAST MODEL

Do you have any Old Italian Legends in your life? If so this is the perfect long sleeved T shirt for them! Click the Amazon link below the image 

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 Teesandengines Men’s LANCIA FULVIA COUPE Grey Long Sleeved T-shirt Size Medium

Or the short sleeved version – for the Spring and Summer! Please click on the Amazon link below the image.

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TEESANDENGINES Men’s Lancia FULVIA Coupe 1972 Italian Grey T-Shirt Size XXXXLarge

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Images courtesy of Lancia

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider

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Alfa Romeo is an iconic breed of Italian sports cars founded as A.L.F.A. (“Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobile”) on June 24, 1910, in Milan. By August 1915 the company was under the direction of Nicola Romero who re-purposed the factory’s output to support the Allies with munitions and aircraft engines.

The name changed to Alfa Romeo in 1920 and a car called “Torpedo” was the first to be badged with the new name. The company enjoyed significant success on the motor racing track with Enzo Ferrari and, in the 1950’s, Juan Manuel Fangio being notable drivers. With Romeo’s departure in 1928 and economic downturn the company was rescued by Mussolini’s government and came under State control in 1933. Following the Second World War and into the mid-1950’s Alfa Romeo started to produce smaller, mass-produced vehicles.

In 1952, Alfa Romeo experimented with a traverse-mounted “Project 13-61” its first compact front-wheel drive car.  The Giulietta (750/101) series of saloons, coupes and “Spiders” – open two-seaters was introduced in 1954. All Giuletta’s shared the Alfa Romeo overhead Twin Cam four-cylinder engine, initially 1290 cc. The Giulietta Sprint, as designed by Franco Scaglione at Bertone, and known as the Giulietta Sprint 2+2 coupé was launched at the 1954 Turin Motor Show.

At the request of Max Hoffman, Alfa Romeo’s US importer, the Giulietta Spider was born in 1955. It was designed by the Pininfarina who also built around 17,000 Spiders at their 107 Corso Trapani and Grugliasco factories between 1956 and 1962 – in the era it was not unusual for the designer to complete the build.

This beautiful example is from 1961:

Our featured image dates from 1959 – see below Hoffman’s range available in the US.

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These beautiful little cars – smaller by today’s standards – would continue to be built in a variety of configuarions until 1965.

Back on the track in the 1960’s and 1970’s Alfa Romeo focussed on competition to great success both in Europe and the US, using production-based cars, such as the GTA an aluminium-bodied version of the Berton-designed coupe.

A Giulietta’s development continued – see this beautiful 1975 Giulietta.

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The 1980’s and 1990’s, aside from a couple of GTV Spiders, were not, in my view, classic years for Alfa Romeo. In more recent years there has been an increasing return to form with a new Giulietta’s and Guilia’s – largely designed as a family vehicles.

In February 2007, the Alfa Romeo brand became Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A., a subsidiary Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Italy, having first merged with Fiat in 1986.

Add this Alfa Romeo Giulietta T Shirt to your wardrobe – click the link below the image

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Men’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider T-Shirt (X-Large, Military Green)

Add this stunning Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider model – as featured above – to your collection: click the link below the image

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Alfa Romeo Giulitta Spider 1300 Cabrio Rot 1961 Mit Sockel und Vitrine 1/24 Modellcarsonline Modell Auto

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Images Alfa Romeo – with grateful thanks

Bialetti Moka Coffee Pot

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Alfonso Bialetti (1888–1970) was a metals engineer who acquired Luigi De Ponti’s invention of the Moka Express coffee pot – an Italian classic and iconic design.

Bialetti worked in the French aluminium industry for over a decade and by 1919 he’d established his own workshop in Crusinallo (Piedmont) and later a studio for design and production.

Bialetti completed his design for the clean-lined eight-sided aluminium Moka Express in 1933. It is known affectionately in Italy as “la macchinetta” (“the little machine”) and has been manufactured largely unaltered for over 70 years.

The Moka is a percolator with coffee grains being loaded into an internal metal filter that is placed over a water reservoir and screwed tightly to the upper part of the coffee pot – a jug shape. This is then placed on a hob and heated. The hot water rises inside the pot and passes through the coffee, extracting the flavour, passing into the upper jug for serving. Care should be taken not to boil the water as according to the vulgar French expression when using the Moka – “Café bouillu, café foutu ?” (Boiled coffee is erm….ruined coffee!)

Between 1934 and 1940 70,000 units of the Moka were produced and sold at Piedmontese street markets. To date it’s believed that around 330m units of the humble Moka have been produced.

Devised as part of a massive marketing campaign by Alfonso son Renato, in the face of stiff copy-cat product competition, the Moka mascot “the Man with the Moustache” was based on a sketch of Alfonso and was developed into a logo in 1953 by Paul Campani.

Bialetti founded Bialetti Industrie S.p.A a major kitchen ware company (with revenues in 2015 in excess of €170m) and is the grandfather of Alberto Alessi founder of Alessi Design known for is slightly wackier domestic products. See the Alessi Kettle below

I was first introduced to the Bialetti Moka coffee pot in Italy in the late 1980’s bringing a four cup version back to the UK which has been used and enjoyed ever since with the occasional need to change the perishable rubber ring inside the body of the Moka.

Since quitting caffeine in the early 2000’s the quality of decaffeinated coffee has improved immensely so much so that I suspect that even the most hardened coffee drinker would be hard pushed to tell the difference – particularly when using the Moka.

Would you like to own a Bialetti Moya Coffee Pot – you can buy your own by clicking the following AMAZON link – Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker, 6 Cup

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Photo by Bialetti