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Gold Medal Recipient

2009 Best in Category: Kitchen Hand Tools

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Microplane

Box Grater

In redesigning its box grater, Microplane started out with a basic plan: to present a box grater to the marketplace that featured a variety of blades, special features and better design elements that were missing in the company’s previous offering.

The grater features three of the company’s most popular, patented Microplane grating blades— fine/zester, medium ribbon and extra coarse— and a fourth slicer blade.

“Our previous box grater had two blades only and a slider attachment, and we just weren’t pleased with that design,” said Microplane’s director/marketing Melissa Moore. “We definitely wanted to revamp the previous model we had in the market.”

The company felt that, given its history and core product— manual zester/graters— a box grater was an integral item to include in its inventory.

And contemporary design was an essential element, said Moore. “Box graters are traditionally bulky, and they take up a lot of room in a cabinet or drawer,” she said. “Our goal was to make this box grater attractive enough that people could leave it on their countertop.”

It was also important to Microplane’s engineers that the box grater feature Microplane’s signature blades and a comfortable handle. According to Moore, Microplane worked closely with Alabama’s Auburn University’s design department and studied how people used and held box graters and incorporated their findings into the grater’s design— the four non-slip feet provide a steady and functional grip at any angle. The removable blades were devised as box graters are typically a “nightmare to clean,” Moore said. “The removable blades make the inside more accessible for cleaning.”

Microplane’s design philosophy changed several years ago, Moore said. Before that point, the company was designing like the engineers they traditionally are, and that, Moore said, was evidenced in the utilitarian feel of the company’s early products. Recently, the company began working with outside design firms to aesthetically improve the engineers’ designs. “We still work out all function with internal engineering, as the products always have to perform well, but they also need to be aesthetically pleasing and give them an ergonomic, comfortable design,” Moore said.

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