The little knife known as Opinel, with a beechwood handle and a carbon steel blade, has become tied with French culture instrisically, which is thought by Francophiles, such as myself, to be the finest culture in the world.
The Opinel was first developed in 1890 in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, Savoie, France. It now sells over 15 million knives annually. In London in 1985, the Victoria and Albert Museum selected Opinel as part of an exhibit featuring the “100 most beautiful products in the world.” This list also featured such cultural mainstays as Rolex and Porsche. The MOMA has featured it is as a design masterpiece, as has Phaidon Design Classics.
We use the Opinel at home to cut and cook with. The blade is very sharp and precise and can handle many objects well. It sharpens better than stainless steel, for example, since it is made of carbon steel. This ability to cut accurately is why Picasso reportedly used the knife as a sculpting tool.
“For the person for whom small things do not exist, the great is not great.”
–Jose Ortega y Gasset
Attribution to Wikipedia, Opinel, Henry Stackle Shop, The New Artemis