In the mainstream Spanish film All men are the same (Manuel Gomez Pereira, 1994), three flat-sharing bachelors hire a young maid to tidy their home. She falls in love with the handsome one of them but, feeling betrayed, she decides to leave her job and steal some of their property. She picks up strange, menacing, spaceship-looking object placed on top of the TV and the rest of the storyline develops around her putting the object back or taking it depending on the mood of her relationship with the main male character. What she stole was a lemon squeezer, but not any lemon squeezer: Juicy Salif.
I used to go to the Alessi shop in Brook Street during my lunchtime, just to look at and hold Juicy Salif. Even though the shop was full of colourful and imaginative products, the menacing lemon squeezer always stood out. Being taller than any other product in the shelve (and certainly taller than any other manual lemon squeezer as it barely fits in the cupboard), its clumsiness was somewhat defiant.
I knew from its price tag, that this cult design object was within my range, that I could own it, but I never found the impetus to buy it. I was in two minds when I thought that, even if a design icon, was I was intending to purchase was an impractical lemon squeezer. I don’t even drink lemon juice… Instead, it was always on my wish list for someone to give it to me as a gift. It was as if I wanted juicy Salif to mark an occasion. Eventually, someone bought it for me. The night it was given to me, I was at a busy pub. When I opened it and placed it on the table people reacted in two different but distinct ways. Some immediately recognized the object, some other screamed: ‘What’s that!’
Like in the Spanish film, my Juicy Salif does not reside in my home’s kitchen but in my bedroom. I have never used it to squeeze lemons. I did not even get it with that intention in mind. What I very consciously wanted was to own a design icon, and not any design icon, but one that was subversive and changed things even if in a small way. Lemon squeezers don’t and shouldn’t look like Juicy Salif. This object is beautiful, thought provoking and imaginative (who could have thought of placing the glass under the squeezer?) but, essentially, it doesn’t function very well. I still don’t understand how that works but I think that adds to the overall status of Juicy Salif.