Kicker Tea Project: Industrial Design Refinement and Mechanical Engineering

See the introduction to this project, the initial concepting and selecting a direction.

The risk of conceptual projects is that they can too easily stray into ridiculousness. “This teapot should also totally be a digital picture frame, and it should have its own Facebook page.” Why not, right? It’s just a concept project.

Not so much. With this project we are looking to stretch the meaning of “teapot”, while also staying grounded in a manufacturable reality. As with all of our concept projects, if someone handed us a bunch of money and said, “Awesome idea, Kicker. Here’s some money, now go build it,” we want to be able to do that. (Hello, Wealthy Potential Investors!)

As a result, we’ve been been digging deep into the industrial design and mechanical engineering for the teapot. To ensure that the teapot is more about tea- than -pot, we’re working with a laboratory-grade glassblower to design a double-walled glass vessel that will allow you to eyeball your steeping tea, while simultaneously protecting your hand from any third-degree burns the hot water might deliver.

An interesting issue with the unique form we’ve come up with involves steam. During the heating phase, releasing the built-up pressure is critical, but when the tea is steeping, the water can’t just bleed out all over the table, which it would because of…well, we can’t tell you why yet. But as a result of this issue, we’re exploring some rather interesting valve technology, a few of which rely solely on the intrinsic properties of highly-engineered fabrics to do their job.

Tea Valve Sketches

As we bounce between the industrial design, engineering, and interface development, it allows each aspect to inform the others, which makes the design process more complex, but also more interesting and fun, and ultimately more successful.

Next: Changing Concepts