The conception of Made OF Australia’s much loved Detached Teacup is story of serendipity, observation, & an unwavering desire to eliminate waste.
For a trained product designer, the creative process involves several fixed steps, from research, to analysis, to ideation, to concept development, to refinement & much iteration in order to establish that the best possible outcome has been achieved, & to ensure nothing is missed that could have been improved upon at any/every stage.
The process of designing this particular piece was very different, it was a procees born of reaction to circumstance, & pure necessity, the mother of invention…
I can tell you all the practical reasons the handle is attached only at the top & detached at the base:
- Firstly because it stays cool that way, being joined to the uppermost part of the vessel, above the pour line of the hot liquid inside, so it doesn’t conduct as much heat.
- Secondly the open handle allows for a comfortable grip no matter what size hand you have; gigantor to petite.
- Lastly, without the encumbrance of a handle attached halfway down/at the base of the body, the cups stack like bowls, nesting comfortably one inside the other, making them a great choice for restaurants with limited storage space or tiny home kitchens.
Practical reasons aside, from a minimalist design point of view, the parabolic curve of a naturally slumped piece of pulled clay, mirrors perfectly the curve of the cup itself, making this closet minimalist product designer very, very happy, but that’s not exactly why I designed it…
Why is it so? Well to be honest, completely by accident.
I was studying a Diploma of Ceramics at Lismore TAFE, & I had a teacher that, despite being incredibly talented, would change her mind about the focus for the day on a whim. We were making tea sets, a first term assignment in many institutions, & so we all had handles pulled, bowls thrown, spouts at the ready, all awaiting final touches, when the familiar “change of plan” call came through…there was a 5 min video we MUST see, this very minute.
An entire 45 minutes later, most students were resigned to redoing their work, as our previous efforts had dried out beyond recovery…but not me. I sat & stared at my brittle handles, too stiff to manipulate & too dry to rehydrate without wasting a lot of precious time & resources…thinking, is that it? Is there nothing I can do? Surely there’s another option?
Drawing on the experience of all the problems I had solved using only what was available to me/the company I was employed by/my paying clients in the past, my brain switched from potter to industrial designer, & started to resolve the issues based on the concerns & limitations at hand.
What did I have?
- Parabolic curves, beautiful in their simplicity & lack of fuss or frill.
- A desire to reinvent an ubiquitous & VERY conventional design staple.
- A serious dislike of our “throw it away & start again” culture.
- A deadline that meant I had no time to remake everything.
How did that influence the outcome?
With these constraints in mind, I set about analysing the options, calculating all possible outcomes, defining the disadvantages & benefits of each theoretical end result. The analyst in me traded time with outcomes. The designer in me demanded flawless functionality. The artist in me aspired to a point of difference not before experimented with.
I identified a number of solutions that day, but only one responded to all the issues raised, & when I settled upon this blueprint, all the advantages of this simple, effortless design flowed to me with an ease that made me wonder why it had never been realised before.
What’s in a name?
Often the names for a new product coined by the designer are seldom accepted by the end user…resulting in nicknames & labels that speak of the experience of the beholder & not necessarily the designers’ intentions. So I left it to you.
“Detached” was the most common adjective used to discuss this distinctive teacup, & so that is what we named it (thanks, take a bow!).
I hope the name reflects my objectives & our shared desire to detach from the everyday, possibly mundane life issues we all face, even if only momentarily.
I aspire to have created a vessel that gives us all poise, suggests disentanglement, & provides us with a glimpse of freedom from attachment while we disconnect & just drink our tea. So please, pour yourself a cup of something that warms your heart, take a step back from the rigours of everyday life for a moment & just let go, even if only halfway…