Thursday, April 14

Italian Design - Cross-Cultural Style

This week, Milan's fab Salone del Mobile Trade Show opened, to great fanfare and zillions of visitors looking for the next 'hot' thing they can knock off back in their home countries. But, seriously, it's lots of fun - terrific eye appeal - and seriously takes your mind off the economic crunch while you fantasize over that uber-cool eco sofa which would cost you nearly one year's pay just to perch on your pavement.
So, as I was preparing my morning cup of Giovanni, my mind wandered toward Italian design.  That's because I use this funky Alessi 'accendigas' to light my stovetop.
Alessi.it

Pick from www.cyberattic.com
Not far away, and right next to my milk in the fridge, is another bizarre household item - clearly thought up by an American (note it reads, CHEESE) as I'm pretty certain no Italian worth their Parmigiano Reggiano would deign to keep pre-grated cheese (at all), let alone in one of these, ready for shaking on the kitchen table.

But, what's funny about these two items is that, whenever a guest comes to visit, the Americans - once they catch on to Alessi's giving new meaning to 'light my fire', usually suddenly grow wary of getting near the stove.  I've yet to meet an Italian who has so much as given it scant attention.
But open the fridge, the Americans fully expect to find a Leaning Tower on my shelf.  Houses in America are filled to the brim with bobbles & bangles, of untold items looking differently from what they actually are.  And so, you find a football helmet as a toaster, little animals for ear muffs, clock radios disguised as fish tanks...
Italians, not yet fully committed to the Made in China onslaught of useless items to crowd into your homes, in their usual understated approach to controversy, simply pose a question: 
"Did you know you have a leaning tower of Pisa inside your refrigerator?" 

Once I explain its use, I've found however, that they no longer will take meals in my home altogether and they start viewing me with some suspicion, as if they ended up in the protagonist's home in Misery. (And wait til they catch my bread knife, hidden in a faux French baguette!)
Either way, between the two, I seem to get out of doing a lot of cooking & cleaning.

4 comments:

AleC said...

this has actually been around for awhile... following the frustrated sex appetite of Italian housewives.... it goes together with fallic shaped deodorants and toothpaste...

Francesca Maggi said...

Are you suggesting I'm frustrated? Or...a housewife? Can't decide which might be worse - except maybe a Desperate Housewife.
And, would hate to hear your opinion on my baguette...!

Anonymous said...

LOL! I want an orange one! Alas, I have an electric stove top... :)

Francesca Maggi said...

I just showed this post to an Italian friend, whose eyes glazed over at the sight of the Alessi, and literally bugged out of his head at the cheese grater - saying it wasn't kitsch, I was!