Lemon Squeezer
Italy, 1958
Gino Colombini

low pressure polyethylene
bottom: 9 x 10.6 cm
insert: 8 x 8.9 cm
lid: 6.7 x 9.5 cm

Bright, fun, plastic: Gino Colombini’s lemon squeezer defines the era it came from. Made in 1958, it was one of a range of pop products produced by Italian company Kartell, as designers moved away from the postwar years and towards the Swinging Sixties.

Kartell, headquartered in Milan, was co-founded in 1949 by Anna and Giulio Castelli to manufacture plastic accessories for cars. With Giulio’s chemical engineering background and experimentation they began to expand into the functional but colourful household items Kartell is known for today.

To make these pieces desirable as well as useful, the Castellis summoned in mid-century designers to mark the long-awaited departure from austerity. Colombini was brought in as technical director in 1953, having worked with designer and architect Franco Albini.

During his time with Kartell Colombini moulded Castelli’s plastic into umbrella stands, lunch boxes and dustpans. Several of his pieces won the Compasso d’Oro Italian award for industrial design, including the lemon squeezer which was made of yellow or white polyethylene, a plastic compressed using moulds.

The squeezer separates into three parts — a base, a lid and a lemon-shaped inner section — that stack away neatly within one another. Measuring 9cm wide and around 20cm tall when packed away, the squeezers are cute and compact — a world away from wartime severity. While they are no longer in production, the influence of Colombini’s design is manifest in countless imitators. —FT

📷 MoMA