From manhole covers to hummingbird shaped letter-openers, Italian designer Giulio Iacchetti has a portfolio brimming with clever, creative and totally usable ideas for the contemporary home.
When you think of celebrated art or design, manhole covers and dustpans rarely come to mind. Yet, artists and designers like Giulio Iacchetti are increasingly creating works of art out of the mundane and utilitarian objects around us.
Born in Cremona, Italy in1966, Iacchetti has been an industrial designer since 1992. He has worked with some of the world’s leading brands and has won several accolades for his work and his art direction with Coop.
Iacchetti began his innovations early on in his career. In 1997, his ‘Joe’ bowl for Progetti is an excellent example. ‘Joe’ is a folding basket made out of three bands of curved wood held together in the centre. The pieces of wood swivel out to become a bowl and can be folded back into place when not in use.
The ‘space-saving’ ideas have continued over the years with the Spazio System, a foldable frying pan (1998); the ‘Bamboo’ multi-purpose cutlery set (2000) where the fork fits into the knife’s body; the award-winning Moscardino (2000), a tiny disposable spoon where the handle doubles up as the fork; the ‘Feed Card’ (2004), a credit-card sized plastic pocket cutlery set and the ‘Batol’ jug-vase-humidifier (2006).
The ‘Buonanotte’ bedside lamp (2007) that also masquerades up as a bookmark/place holder; the ‘Lumen’ (2007) candle holder that comes together when two metal sheets are joined together; ‘Molletta per Bucato’ (2008), a stunningly elegant plastic peg holder that resembles a flower; the ‘Tuboom’ (2010) coat-stand which is really just a simple pipe that splays into strands at the other end (bonus: it is available in 190 colours) and most recently, the ‘Pulivo’, a complete set of brooms and brushes to handle a household’s trash (2011). The handles of the ‘Pulivo’ system fit into each other thus helping with storage as well.
Giulio Iacchetti’s work is also consistently laced with a lot of humour and irony. The ‘Bye Bye Fly’ (2007) is a fly swatter that replaces the traditional net with the map of Milan! The designer was “inspired by the swarms of mosquitoes and flies that usually invade the city’s summer nights”. The swatter doubles up as a fun souvenir too.
In 2006, Iacchetti designed an ice-cube tray that moulds cubes to mimic a gold bar. The idea was to communicate that water is as precious as gold. The chunks of ice have ‘Cold’ embossed on them and in a suitable light, that could easily read as ‘Gold’.
The fun continues with the ‘St Peter Squeezer’ (2007), an irreverent juicer that reproduces the shape of St. Peter’s Square in Rome very nicely. The name and the idea is an ironic reference to the 8% tax that the Church takes from the people of Italy.
Continuing with the fun design ideas is ‘4occhi’ (2008), a double glasses frame for the myopic or for those who cannot be bothered to carry separate pairs of sunglasses and eye-glasses. Just flip your glasses over and voila! you have a different pair.
The 2009 ‘Sanpietrino’ spoon is another nod to the designer’s Italian heritage where the stainless steel teaspoon has a key on its end (“key to Paradise”) which supposedly can reach to the bottom of the cup and “unlock the coffee aroma”. Sounds divine!
The ‘Happy’ Dice (2010) will make you smile when playing a favourite board game. The traditional dots are replaced with faces instead. You’ll spend hours trying to get your favourite face the right way up.
Besides products for the kitchen, Iacchetti has also designed linen (the ‘Ghost’ range of bedlinen in 2010), humidifiers that look like factories or vases (‘Fabbrica’) and a contemporary range of sanitary ware that has simple, unpretentious lines and saves water too (‘Olivia’, 2010).
In 2006, Iacchetti collaborated with the Montini foundry to design drains and cast-iron manhole covers for public and private spaces. The design is not merely decorative, but serves to inform as well. Every manhole cover tries to tell a story – the ones made for the parks have ‘bird feet’ on them, instead of the traditional dashes. There are covers with optical illusions, or those that resemble tyre tracks to show how such covers “endure urban traffic”.
In November 2012 Giulio Iacchetti launched his most recent project – ‘Internoitaliano’, the “factory network” made up of many several workshops and manufacturers that “provide the quality and technical know-how of traditional Italian craftsmanship to products that are sold exclusively online”. Authentic Italian design doesn’t get any better than this.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy Giulio Iacchetti