The Alessi store brings playful, affordable housewares to shoppers.

Alessi, an Italian company, is known for witty versions of everyday objects, from bottle openers to pasta cookers, designed by more than 200 noted architects and designers. Its seventh American store opened last month in Washington, joining stores in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York (two stores), Phoenix and San Francisco.

Alessi was founded in 1921, and store shelves hold a history of familiar household items, such as the Dr. Skud fly swatter ($16) by French design superstar Philippe Starck.

“We like to think of them as items that make you smile,” said Alessio Alessi, the chief executive officer and third generation to run the family firm. “Our business is function and emotion.”

Alessi (www.alessi.com) designs perform ordinary tasks of modern life with a bit of extra style: You’ll find cute sweater defuzzers, sushi trays and a stainless-steel nutcracker shaped like a squirrel. Over the years, Alessi has created about 3,000 products. Alessi pieces are part of many permanent museum collections of modern design.

“I think it’s like candy to the eye,” said Deborah Kalkstein, who owns and operates the new Alessi store in D.C. and owns Contemporaria, a shop that sells modern European furniture just down a cobblestone alley. “For me the most exciting part is that there is a product for everyone, men and women, the old and the young, even for your dog,” said Kalkstein, pointing out designer Miriam Mirri’s fetching Lupita canine watering station in stainless steel topped with a white dog bone.