Thursday, 12 June 2008

Self Managed Project - Tea Time

A Tea Service that provides a spot of meditation in today’s hectic world
In the 21st century there is a proliferation of products that demand our engagement but give little back in return. The aim of this project was to design a product, which would create a calm space in our busy daily lives.

Rituals and their associated gestures are beneficial to us because we find them pleasurable and reassuring. Through the use of Tea Time to prepare and drink a cup of tea the user enacts their own soothing ritual.

The mundane can become special if it is viewed from a new perspective. In light of this each piece of the Tea Service has it’s own way of being used and related gestures. This causes the user to become aware of the ritual they are performing and enjoy the specific actions of each part of the tea making process.

It was important to map out the tea narrative and I observed various tea rituals including a Japanese Tea ritual, Tea Leaf reading and making a Pot of Tea for Two.
As was observing the way people interact with tea objects like cups, mugs and tea pots. I found that everyone has a favourite mug and way of holding it. Also people often change their grip during the drinking process. As the mug cools down they can ignore the handle and grasp the body of the mug.
I was influenced by the design language and philosophy of Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa. “The super normal object is the result of a long tradition of evolutionary advancement in the shape of everyday things, not attempting to break with the history of form but rather trying to summarise it” Morrison. They wrote a really interesting book based on their exhibition of found Super Normal objects called Super Normal: Sensations of the Ordinary. There is also a useful website/blog at
During the concept generation phase I played with narrative themes that had a relaxing element like gardening, woodland walk, the seashore and a more abstract concept: air. I chose to develop air as it had it's own language and offered the broadest appeal.

My design was based on the theme of air, in terms of space and freedom. Each piece has a specific gesture associated with it and the fragility and shapes are designed so that care has to be taken by the user.
To develop the actions and gestures I wanted (i.e. graceful and languid) I did a lot of testing. Especially with the spouts and the pouring action.

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