Housewares Design Awards

2008 Best in Category: Cutlery

Douglas Quikut/Ginsu

12-piece Chikara Cutlery Set

Ginsu made its name in the late 1980s thanks in no small part to television commercials featuring a Japanese chef sawing through an aluminum can and, with the same blade, cutting tomatoes into paper-thin slices. In later years, the tin can became a lead pipe, and even after cutting through a shoe, the Ginsu knife was sharp enough to make short work of a pineapple.

After fading from view for several years, Ginsu has entered the high-end retail marketplace, introducing the Chikara line of cutlery last year. According to the company, the name “Chikara” is derived from two Japanese words: “Chi,” which means energy, and “Kara,” which means power.

Ginsu’s general design philosophy is centered on two factors: the company’s perception as a Japanese brand and its claim to manufacture the sharpest knives in world. These two themes were put to work when the company began designing its new high-end Chikara cutlery line.

Chikara leverages Ginsu’s Japanese-inspired name and the current popularity of Japanese blades in the cutlery market.

“We did a number of focus groups, and whenever people heard Ginsu, they thought it was an Asian brand,” said Douglas Quikut Head Engineer Dustin Smith. As the company began doing more manufacturing in Southeast Asia, they saw even more parallels between the Ginsu name and the Asian cooking trends.

“From there, we decided we really wanted to do something more dramatic and more traditional with the Japanese influence and heritage,” Smith said.

The Ginsu brand uses all Japanese materials in the construction of its knives, according to Smith. Based on that, engineers began studying the characteristics of traditional Japanese samurai swords and how they were crafted, as well as the common cooking knifes used by Japanese chefs.

The collection features a balance of traditional Japanese style, look and quality craftsmanship taken into a modern manufacturing setting. The knives are hand sharpened prior to leaving the factory to ensure they have an effective edge.

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