This fascination is the subject of Open & Drink!, an exhibition in Prague curated by the Czech creative collective Okolo. A display of 24 different bottle openers, Open & Drink! is a celebration of the variety found in a simple functional object.
"I think there’s an appeal to make small, smart practical things that are easy to produce," says Adam Štěch, one of Okolo's four founders. "A designer can include poetry in an everyday object or can take a more conceptual attitude towards something that is very ordinary; something that has a very exact, specific function. I think the fascination lies in that contradiction of everyday life and conceptual design."
Alongside objects by designers such as Castiglioni and Rovero, the exhibition also displays objects that have been appropriated as bottle openers: Bic lighters and the screws in street lighting. "We’re not just looking at bottle openers," acknowledge Štěch. "We’re also looking at the act of opening."
The exhibition opens in the Okolo/Pedal Project Studio in Prague on 15 August, before moving to Poland in October for Łódź Design Festival. Below, Štěch talks Disegno through a selection of the openers included in the exhibition.
Act by deFORM (2013)
The only bottle opener designed for the exhibition. It’s by the young Czech studio deFORM and it’s really simple. I like the idea that three weeks ago we asked deFORM to make a bottle opener and they designed and produced the prototypes in just two weeks. It’s archetypical. It’s just metal wire bent in three places and welded at two points. It’s produced in a very economical and practical way. It's a bonus that we initiated a new product with it.
The Monopol Hermetus by Monopol (unknown)
The Monopol is a special bottle opener, but a little bit of an unknown. It's history is relatively anonymous, other than it's an industrially produced product. It costs about €3 and is available everywhere in Germany. On its back there's a piece of rubber, which you can slide over an open bottle to seal the beer inside. I bought my Monopol some years ago in Germany, but after a lot of research we still couldn't uncover when exactly it was designed. It's a mystery.
Hex by Iacoli & McAllister (2013) and Crest by Studio Fort Standard (2013)
These two illustrate a little bit of a trend. Both are made out of brass and they're very decorative, which makes them a good representation of contemporary American design. Crest's abstract geometric composition of the brass wire makes it look like a jewel, and Hex is equally graphical. In May I went to ICFF in New York and was looking at products from young American designers: there's a big use of brass and an influence of postmodern design on their work. They favour graphical, bold shapes.
Bout de Bois by Adrien Rovero (2013)
This is pretty minimalist and it's very interesting that it's made out of wood. It was made by a really simple process by the Swiss company Ace: two holes drilled in the wood - one bigger, one smaller - and into the smaller hole Adrien has placed a metal plate. It's really simple and works well because it's so long, which means you get leverage. It feels like a nice object in the hand and looks good on the table. In terms of its construction, it's the most minimal piece in the show.
Splügen by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni (1960)
This was designed by the Castiglionis for their famous interior project Splügen Bräu, a restaurant in Berlin done in 1960. It was a beautiful beerhouse designed by Castiglioni. A lot of the products designed for the interior like the Splügen Bräu lamp are now in production and this opener is also in production by Alessi, who do a huge variety of openers. It's bent steel plate, cut into the shape of the opener. It's hard to say much about the design other than how nice it is: I like it a lot.