In our Prototyping and Visualization class, we were challenged with the re-purposing of an industrial low-tech appliance. We chose to investigate and recreate an alternative design for the ‘Tea Strainer’.
The inspiration for our idea came from a team member’s personal connection to tea. This emotional tie led us to use the tea strainer as our low-tech appliance. We began our process by using the tea strainer in making a traditional Indian chai (which we later enjoyed drinking as well!). Doing this helped us better understand the tea strainer as we immersed into the research phase.
Our research dove into several different areas – historical context, various uses, and material types, shapes and styles. We also looked at some of the potential fields of interest. Below are a few examples of some of the insights gained from the initial research:
We continued experimenting with the strainer by playing with materials, uses, and elaborating on our ideas and the areas that we were interested in. We looked at new ways in which the strainer might be employed in the kitchen, but also thought about it completely outside the box, revolutionizing the concept of the tea strainer.
With so many different concepts, some much more conceptual than others, we narrowed down to a single concept — one that would allow the strainer to become adaptive, attach to different sizes and types of pots or containers, and also have multiple uses. This design allowed us to still investigate further into the different types of materials that would be best suited for the construction of the final prototype.
After rounds of iteration, our design organically transitioned into a boat-shape, allowing the strainer to adhere to different container sizes and types. It could be used in the typical convention – one that separates liquid from a solid – letting you pour away the liquid from the solid. Another use was that of an “infuser”, where the strainer (boat) could sit in a simmering liquid, allowing spices of some sort to infuse their flavors into the liquid, without dispersing and separating away.
Instead of constructing just one prototype, we decided to prototype our design for the strainer in a handful of ways so that we could showcase different materials, shapes, and styles from each of these prototypes.
Weave Prototype: Creating a woven prototype allowed us to test the strength as well as flexibility of the frame, by using natural materials, such as bamboo (reed) and wire.
Silicone Prototype: Experimenting with liquid silicone to create a boat shaped prototype allowed us to test having a version that could be completely malleable and attach onto any shape container or pot. It would also be resistant to heat when using it with hot liquids.
3d Printed Prototype: Creating a rendering of the prototype and printing it using a 3d Printer allowed us to perfect the shape and look of the final design – a simple and elegant product that would act as a natural extension of the human hand when you are using it.
Click below to view the full recount of our process and design:
MBA / MA in Design Leadership
Visualization & Prototyping
Credit: Julie Buisson, Akhil Chugh, Sylvia Vadakara, Zhujuan Zeng
Date: October – December 2013