2006 Annual Design Review Consumer Products Best of Category

Katana Series Cutlery

You’d think it would be hard to improve upon the knife, probably the most popular tool since the Stone Age. But Calphalon pushed its designers to make a more substantial, ergonomic version for serious cooks, and they came up with cutlery that has superior cutting ability, a better marriage to the hand, and an intriguing form. On top of all that, the jurors noted, it costs a remarkably affordable $299.99 for a complete set, including shears, sharpener, and block.

Named for the sacred sword carried by samurai warriors, Katana begins with a core of VG Japanese steel, a material that’s harder than common German steel and helps to hone and retain a sharper edge. Then the blade is wrapped in 32 layers of stainless steel in a centuries-old technique that produces a distinctively wavy surface pattern as well as greater rigidity and rust-resistance.

A knife’s bolster, where the blade joins the handle, is the customary gripping point, but it can be so limiting as to hurt the hand with repeated use. Calphalon stretched the Katana’s bolster slightly to allow a longer grip range. The configuration, the designers say, ensures safe, intuitive handling and was innovative enough to earn its own patent. "It’s very elegant—a nice piece of sculpture," Chan said. "The contrast of materials has a simplicity that’s missing in this industry."

DESIGN Calphalon in-house design team (Perrysburg, OH): Joel Tetreault, senior industrial designer; Steve Muske, CAD designer; Paul LoGiudice, director of design
CLIENT Calphalon (Toledo, OH)
MATERIALS VG Japanese steel, POM
SOFTWARE Pro/Engineer, Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia FreeHand

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