In memory of Keith Hensel, Chief Designer for Breville

Keith Hensel (1965 – 2013) demonstrating a sectioned Breville 800 Class Citrus Press, 2004. Courtesy Breville Group Limited

Keith Hensel was principal designer at Breville, and previously a designer with Sunbeam and Nielsen Design Associates. For more than 20 years he had been involved in designing household products from lighting to kettles, toasters to toothbrushes. Hensel’s designs have become part of our everyday lives. People all over Australia and the world have benefited from his innovations to make household appliances easier and more enjoyable to use.

In 2005 Hensel generously participated in the Sydney Designers Unplugged exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum. He talked about his design process for the Breville 800 Class Citrus Press. He said,

‘I suppose the start was we wanted to design the best juicer in the world.’

An early concept sketch and prototypes of the Citrus Press by Hensel are now part of the Museum’s collection. He explained (video) the design process for the citrus press used a combination of 3-D computer modelling, sketching and hand-made models. Simple cardboard cut-outs were used to test the handle mechanism.

More than 20 prototypes of the reamer or juicing cone were made using 3D printing or rapid protyping. These were tested and modified by hand to obtain the perfect shape for juicing all types of citrus fruit. Each prototype was made overnight, ready for Hensel to test and modify the next day.

A key innovation in Breville 800 Class Citrus Press was that it could extract juice from the smallest lime or the largest grapefruit in seconds without changing the juicing cone. The patented arm mechanism is easy to use and allows the fruit to be juiced quickly, with little effort. A double safety switch ensures the juicing cone does not spin unless the fruit is loaded and the arm depressed over the fruit. The Breville 800 Series Citrus Press was awarded an Australian Design Award in 2005.

Hensel was involved in winning more than 25 Design Awards and had more than 30 patents to his name in Australia alone. His passion for design was evident when talking about the development of the Citrus Press, and will live on in the products he designed as we use them every day. He said,

‘I wanted people to feel that it (the Citrus Press) was a high quality product. I wanted them to be excited by the form. I wanted it to be a sculptural form that someone would want to leave out on the bench as a talking point. And I wanted it to be satisfying – that they’d want to use it in the morning and be excited about it.’

Sadly Keith Hensel passed away on 11 January 2013. A comprehensive tribute to him can be found here where you can follow through to the family memorial. You can make a donation toward his family if you wish.

This article was originally published on the Powerhouse Museum Collection blog.