Thesis Blog - Tea Set
Creating a blog that post updates and findings about my ongoing thesis project.
For me, mixing new technologies and design ideas with traditional craft products is a worthy challenge. Thus, for my final year project, I am thinking of designing a tea set which brings together technology and user experience, business and manufacturing, and culture and commerce.
My focus when making tea sets will not be entirely on material. Rather, I want to focus on the user experience, business ideas, and some new design elements. These new tea sets can help people understand tea culture and improve their experience while drinking tea. For instance, the design for the interface of a digital number shows the tea’s temperature, time of boiling, and other information on the body of tea sets that users can easily read. Also, the combination of mobile-phone applications and physical products will increase the user’s experience. A database of tea cultures with mobile phones and networks can be connected to the tea set to control temperature and time while making tea. Because different types of teas have contrasting tastes, the time and temperature of the boiling water is also different in order to get the best taste experience.
From the conversation with professor Scot Laughton, I was intrigued with the idea of redesign the tea set into the style of modern Chinese culture. (Not only focus on user experience but also style.) The concept is about design modern style of tea set related to Chinese element without obvious traditional features like symbols and characters.
Here are some links shows other designers' work about modern Chinese design.
Also, was inspired by other modern designers.
In my opinion, to define the modern Chinese design, it can be refine traditional elements to improve designs. Move over to the design of tea set, I want to refine and deepen a concept from Chinese culture. It is not a concrete external image or symbol, but an abstract which consist of shapes and patterns even thoughts that do not look like real traditional things.
To continuing the concept of modern Chinese style, it should be integrated into aesthetics, and the key is "innovation", which is to get rid of the traditional massive style and colour combination, then use of modern design techniques appropriately. Also, it can learn from some modern design elements to improve traditional elements. The core of new Chinese style is to refine traditional Chinese art and design elements, abolish complicated decoration. To create new visual style, should start from the different views of appearance , colour, material, design from old Chinese craft and design.
There are some design of modern Chinese style furnitures are popular nowadays, which evolve by traditional furniture. A lot of modern Chinese design elements have simple lines which come from Ming dynasty furnitures.
Think more deeply about this tea set concept, to weaken the symbols of concrete from Chinese culture, and at the same time to strengthen the abstract thoughts and artistic conception (deep thought and symbol of Chinese tea culture). The design of new Chinese style is a combination of contemporary Chinese lifestyle and modern design which need emphasize the abstraction of culture and history to enhance the quality of design. From the perspective of tea set design, by removing strong cultural symbols and adding more overall feelings and artistic conception, the consistency and concept of the overall design can be highlighted, and also the understanding of Chinese tea culture is also easier to be felt by users. Simplify the shapes, patterns and colours in the design of this tea set to achieve the old thought of simplicity (大道至简). For this design, what I want people to see and feel is more understandable and interpretation of traditional culture, rather than expressing the whole design from the appearance or style.
During the research, I got lots of inspiration which from different point of views ( include materials, culture, history and ideations ). The book named Classic of Tea wrote by Lu, Yu introduces twenty eight items used in the brewing and drinking of tea, including specifications and instructions, construction and recommended materials. Also the effect of these utensils to tea brew. Furthermore, people believe that can enhance self-recognition and reach peaceful mind while drinking tea. Thus, it is a worthwhile topic to describe that use the shape, size and volume to design a tea set develop traditional way of tea drinking. From the perspective of tea set combination, I do not want to simplify the different experiences of different tea tools, keep the various steps of traditional tea drinking, and enhance the experience of it.
Reviewing ideas and research materials from past, I want to focus my design thesis
on how to use design elements to make user slow down while drinking tea (Traditional way).
However, during the research of traditional Chinese tea making process and combine with the modern tea making process, many traditional tools seem less important. So I think my previous work has put the wrong emphasis, but what is the next direction?
Starting from the view of marketing, China has become one of the important markets in the global scope. However, the China's manufacturing industry has not fully entered the stage of independent development, and there are still many areas have not been fully improved, such as traditional tea culture. Then, I did more product research. Almost all tea set products that can be purchased in the market, their appearance and production's techniques are not free from the traditional constraints.
After Chinese economic reform, the younger generation adopted more western ideas and aesthetics. Before that, the government did not care about the development of art and design. Since 1949, there has been a blank period of art movement and design development for nearly 30 years. At the same time, with the rapid development of the western design industry, new and classic designs are emerging one after another. The design does not involve some traditional industrial fields, so there will be a blank situation in the market. China has a huge tea market, but related products have not been fully developed. The consumption ability and aesthetic level of the younger generation are at a high standard, but many areas of product in the market cannot meet the needs of contemporary consumption.
Then I return to the idea of how can I fill the blank of this market and re-crafting of Chinese tradition through the development of a new generation of tea-set design.
Inspiration, in old Chinese culture each family has a small piece of land on which they cultivate their crops, so they have their own small 'farm' with it's customized products used for the special needs of the family. The idea of designing this tea set comes from this fact. Therefore, when you look at tea set, you see the cips inserted in glass beads which resemble the 'land' and the cups themselves symbolize the plants growing on the land. Thus, the tea set can be customized for each individual or family giving them a feeling of delight and comfort.
The design will incorporate the use of traditional Chinese craft making technique and tea-set production materials to preserve the DNA of the Chinese culture in the design. The culture will also be evident through the retention of the traditional teapots, teacup, fair cup, tureen, tasting cup, and tea tray. The materials to use in the new design will be China, and the tea tray will be fashioned with light-emitting diode (LED) lighting elements. These features will give the set a modern appearance to meet the contemporary aesthetic values attached to drinking vessels. The modern design will also support the popular contemporary tea-making processes.
The re-crafting of the traditional tea-set design will promote the appreciation of Chinese tea-sets among both the older and the younger generations. The older generation will appreciate the design for its aesthetic features that reflect the traditional Chinese artistry in the production of tea-sets. The introduction of the contemporary design aspects and techniques in the production of the tea-sets would make them appeal to the contemporary youngster generation while allowing them not to lose sight of ancient traditions. Therefore, the design will both preserve ancient Chinese tea-set design culture and make it more appealing to the current crop of purchasers.
The newly designed tea-set can be used to achieve the same purpose as the traditional Chinese tea-sets. While the primary application of the set is to serve as the vessels to use in tea, the tea-set plays a significant role in the preservation of the unique Chinese tea culture. The teapots will be used to steep tea leaves in hot water while the teacups will serve their primary role as the vessels for drinking tea. The other elements including the fair cup, tureen, tasting cup, and the tea tray will all have special roles to play. All these elements will give the user of the set the chance to appreciate the traditional Chinese tea culture while appreciating the aesthetics of the vessels when taking tea.
The advancements in the lighting technologies have enabled the use of LED lighting elements in many design area which bring new environmental experience for people, thereby the idea of enabling the use of this element will improve the tea-set design. Modern artistic designs in food vessels will also enhance the implementation of the aesthetic features that will influence the coating and colouring done on the tea-set. Finally, the use of ceramics to produce diverse materials of appearances will enable the production of high-quality tea-sets.
The re-crafting of the traditional Chinese tea-set will see the development of the design of a set that appeals to both the older and the younger generations. The incorporation of traditional design features with modern design techniques will preserve the cultural values attached to the tea-sets and tea-drinking practices while making the design aesthetically appealing to the youngsters. Therefore, the design will be relevant to the contemporary Chinese culture.