What is art? No, really. It is the stuff of PhD dissertations, fodder for late-night diatribes in a haze-filled art school dorm. Me, I’m not entirely sure. There are things that I’m almost certain are art. The Mona Lisa, Beethoven’s 5th, a perfectly symmetrical eight-tier tulip, those all fall easily under the heading of “Art”. But there are more borderline cases, like this French press, for instance, and well, I truly don’t know.
As with other coffee and potentially-art crossovers, the French press was brought to our attention by Odd Eye, a New York City vintage and modern design boutique. The piece in question is the work of Italian architect and designer Guido Venturini—who also created the “Gino Zucchino” sugar castor and a phallic gas lighter—for Italian homewares brand Alessi. Cast in neon green resin, the Inka French press as it is known depicts a slender-bodied alien slothing a glass vessel, with a “reflective faceted [eyed]” head as the plunger. It was designed circa 2000 but has a very mid-‘90s Gadzooks vibe.
And it’s going rate is $100. To wit, I ask again, is it art? The price tag implies it is more than just a functional piece of coffee brewing equipment and there is certainly an aesthetic quality to its lines. It’s like a marble sculpture of a perfectly coiled turd. Would that be art? I dunno.
Perhaps, though, the more important question is: would you pay $100 for it? Personally, you couldn’t pay me to take it, or any other French press for that matter (I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get the Chemex filter in one). Unless, of course, I wouldn’t be required to use it. In which case, sure I’ll take your money and my new alien friend. But art is subjective and I wanted to know if I’m right or if I’ve got philistine eyes, so I put the question to the rest of the editors here at Sprudge. These are their unedited responses.
Michelle Johnson, Editor At Large:
How fun! How cute! Who wouldn't you enjoy a neon green alien hugging your coffee every morning, serving as a constant reminder that we are tiny specs of stardust floating in space and we're not alone because this galaxy is home to hundreds, if not thousands, of Earth-like planets so there's no way in hell we're the only sentient beings that exist and aliens just don't want us in their business—I get it—but anyways, I would not pay $100 for an existential spiral with my coffee when I do it to myself for free.
Zachary Carlsen, Cofounder:
It wouldn’t match my decor. Everyone knows my kitchen theme is bumblebees, my bathroom theme is butterflies. Do you sell a conceptual high art French press with bumblebees on it?
Jenn Chen, Editor At Large:
As someone who is not an art collector nor really a coffee accessories collector, this French press was certainly not made for me. First, it was made in 2000. When did that year become vintage?! Second, why? Why this rather average interpretation of an alien? I would’ve liked to see more originality in the alien form design. Really, they could’ve just advertised it as a fly-head human given the “reflective faceted eyes” descriptor and called it a day.
Liz Clayton, Associate Editor:
Would I—in some unimaginable, wealthy world—buy this French press? No. The alien is simply too desperate, clinging to the carafe in such a way that I'd feel uncomfortable taking even a drop from them. That said, if I was in fact making coffee outside next to my tremendously psychedelic swimming pool, I can't think of a more appropriate lifestyle accessory, besides whatever drugs I was actually using this French press to store.
Jordan Michelman, Cofounder:
When I look at this French Press, I'm reminded more of 1990s popular mass-produced kid's stuff than I am of “art”—something like the Nickelodeon Time Blaster Alarm Clock, maybe—although it's fair to wonder what “art” even is anymore, and who it's for, and why. If you think this French Press is art, well, $100 for a work of art is a bargain. If you think it's just a French Press with bells and whistles, however, I'm not sure that's a solid cost-to-value ratio, and I would be constantly worried about breaking it. Ultimately art is in the eye of the beholder. I *do* think it's likely that photos taken of this device in full brew mode are likely to garner you a lot of likes on social media, triggering a dopamine response in your brain similar to winning at a game of scratch lotto. Can you put a price on dopamine? This is the question of our age.
Well, we know at least one person would pay $100 for this French press. The Alessi Inka French press is now sold out at Odd Eye and every online reseller as of press time.