Bottle opener with packaging, 'Marli', high tensile stainless steel / foam / cardboard, designed by Steven Blaess, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2004, made by Alessi, Crusinallo, Italy, 2005
This is an example of the 'Marli' bottle opener that Sydney designer, Steven Blaess, developed in 2004 for the Italian design company, Alessi. Noted for its ergonomic design, the bottle opener was developed to minimise handling and to be both easy and comfortable to use. Alessi launched the stainless steel device as part of its 'Fall-Winter' collection of 2005, and sold around 200,000 examples globally between November 2005 and March 2006. (The product was marketed at the lower end of the Alessi price range, retailing in Australia for $39.)
While attending a design workshop in Milan in 2004, Blaess sent examples of the opener to the managing director of Alessi Spa, Alberto Alessi, and his project consultant, Laura Polinoro. Interested in his design, Polinoro invited Blaess to present the product and other items from his portfolio at an Alessi workshop in May in 2005. Blaess subsequently developed the packaging and illustrated instructions.
Impressed by the high quality of the design and its ability to be produced in large quantities and at a limited cost, Alessi agreed to adopt the Marli bottle opener, packaging and instructions without modification. The item was included in official gift packs at the 2005 International Design Awards in New York, and was short-listed in the 'Consumer' category of the 2005-2006 Australian Design Awards. Since then, Blaess has used the design and shape of the bottle opener to develop around fifteen other products that include cookware, jewellery, salad servers and bar accessories. Alessi is presently developing his concept for a key ring with a hinged gate that operates in a similar manner to carabiners that secure running ropes in mountain climbing.
Steven Blaess developed the 'Marli' bottle opener in 2004 for the Italian design firm, Alessi. Made from high tensile stainless steel and shaped like a figure-of eight, the item features a contoured, ergonomic design that is easy and comfortable to use. Held in the palm of the hand, the opener is twisted by the wrist in a horizontal or vertical action that releases the bottle lid. Blaess developed the product to be used with a minimum of handling, contrasting traditional bottle openers that require movement in the shoulder and forearm for leverage.
Blaess manufactured the Marli prototype in high tensile stainless steel - the same material that Alessi used in its production run. High tensile stainless steel provided strength and enabled the opener to be cast in large numbers and at a limited cost. Alessi launched the Marli bottle opener for its 2005 Fall-Winter range.
Sydney product designer, Steven Blaess, donated this example of the Marli bottle opener to the Powerhouse Museum in early 2006.
Blaess graduated from the University of South Australia in 1994 with a Bachelor of Design in Human Environments. While studying, he received a two-year Scholarship of Excellence in Design and accepted a position with an international architectural practice in Hong Kong to develop commercial interiors.
Blaess has since worked with some of Australia's leading companies in architecture and interior and graphic design. He has developed concept products for the Italian design company, Alessi, meditation pod seats for the Italian design company, Edra, and an orbit lighting series for the Italian lighting company, Iguzzini. He is currently working on two high-speed yachts and on a United States project to develop a concept hotel for outer space.