STEEL: art design architecture




Born 1971, Sydney, Australia

Works Sydney, Australia

In 2005, tradie-turned-entrepreneur Craig Hiron set himself the task of creating a product that could deliver cafe-grade espresso coffee in the home. The smooth mirror polished stainless steel surface of the The Little Guy, 2013 instantly conjures parallels with Giordano Robiatti's iconic stovetop coffee machine, the Atomic. Yet minimal embellishments and sultry curves are where the similarities between these two machines end. The clean lines of its exterior belie the complexity and sophistication of the internal design of The Little Guy. It is here, that Hiron’s fastidious attention to detail is most keenly felt.

Stainless steel offered thermal stability to The Little Guy, allowing the head and base of the machine to heat and operate independently. It is precisely this separation that meant Hiron was able to achieve his ambition of producing cafe-grade espresso coffee and milk from a stovetop unit for the home. Without the material properties of steel, this would be impossible.

The steel body, boiler, boiler cap, head and group cup of The Little Guy are created using a lost-wax investment casting process, a technique that was first used in the Chalcolithic Age more than 5,700 years ago. Each part is hand-polished for three to four hours to achieve the surface lustre. The Little Guy combines a respect for material, a commitment to process, and the pursuit of perfection. Together, these attributes create a machine designed to stand the tests of time.