Grounded is the final year thesis project for RMIT's Industrial Design Honours course (completed in 2014).
The project looks into the rich history, narratives and politics surrounding coffee, particularly within the unique coffee culture of Melbourne. After discovering coffee culture moves in distinct waves, Grounded found it's focus on what is referred to as new or third wave coffee, particularly in the preparation of filter and pour over.
Despite the inherent simplicity of filter coffee, the objects used in its making are fragile and hold a laboratory aesthetic that render it complex and unapproachable.
Aiming to increase the awareness and consumption of filter, brew equipment was designed that offers an alternative identity to the method. The elimination of unnecessary equipment sees the method of brewing becoming simpler and less intimidating. The use of warmer and more natural materials such as ceramic and wood offer a friendlier aesthetic as well aid in limiting the fragility and breakages associated with overuse of glass and ceramic together.
The filter cones and cups were slipcast and glazed using white satin and brown tamaku glazes, offering strong connotations to coffee itself. The lower drinking temperature of filter coffee allowed for the removal of a handle from the cup, with a form inspired by the whiskey Dram glasses. A round, robust base to suit a busy cafe environment with a slightly tapering opening to increase aromas. The cone takes on a hexagonal form to assist in water flow while performing the pour over, offering enough restriction to allow brewing. Taking cues from espresso, a stainless steel spout can be added to the cone to allow brewing of 2 cups, tackling the issue of the slower process that is pour over coffee.
Ultimately, Grounded results in allowing filter coffee to find a home in Melbourne’s coffee culture, to be special without being specialty, to no longer intimidate consumers but to be everyday, to be grounded.