Lots of testing phases were included in the development of the product to ensure short and fast learning loops, before scaling up to mass production. Building early prototypes helped to assess how users interacted with the new teapot, and provided important feedback on the design. A small, dedicated multi-disciplinary team worked from the beginning to the launch. “Being fully integrated as a designer in the team really enriches the creative process”, says Nicole de Klein. “You gain a much better understanding of what each discipline is contributing, and you build on each other’s ideas to find meaningful solutions.”
Throughout the development process, the quality of the tea was always the primary objective when making technical decisions. The teapot and filter are both designed to release the rich aroma of the tea, by allowing space for the tea leaves to fully unfold. Stainless steel was chosen for the pot, as it has minimal taste influence and does not absorb flavors. The double-walled pot keeps the tea warm, so that it can be taken into the living room. Elaborate tests were carried out by leading taste institutes in Wageningen and Hamburg and the department of tea science in China’s Zhejiang University to ensure that the tea is brewed in the optimal way.
The tea maker has a number of pre-programmed settings, with different temperatures and steeping times for the four main types of tea - black, green, herbal and rooibos - plus an option to set your own. “We designed the user-interface to keep all the brewing options as unobtrusive as possible - to avoid links to digital appliances”, explains Nicole de Klein. The light ring is used to indicate when the tea is ready - once the tea begins to steep, the ring around the base of the pot lights up in segments, and the when the ring closes it is ready. “This adds a really poetic element to the product that gives it a unique identity”, added Nicole.
September 13, 2011