The Design Academy + Eastman Tritan™ copolyester
The Design Academy, a California-based design consultancy headed up by industry veteran Chuck Pelly, was asked to design a showpiece collection of housewares featuring Eastman Tritan™ copolyester. The initiative led to new designs for four ordinary kitchen appliances: an eggbeater, blender, juicer, and kettle. “These are the luxury designs that people want. People don’t want their luxury to be obvious, so the home market is the best penetration point,” explained Kieran Smith, global industry leader for durables at Eastman.
- The Eggbeater: Brilliant colors and detailed ornamentation add a jewelry-like quality and element of fun to the part. The ergonomic handle allows the user to move beaters around with better control. The Tritan™-molded gearing mechanism spins the shaft, which demonstrates the material’s mechanical strength.
- The Electric Kettle: The clean slim design combines aluminum and Tritan™, which provides a transparent container allowing the user to view the water level. The L-shaped ergonomic grip contours to the user’s hand for easier pouring.
- The Blender: The three-piece design includes an aluminum base and a Tritan™ center and lid. The solidity of the Tritan™ sections provides a natural weight to the blender.
- The Juicer: Circular shapes and concave profiles demonstrate Tritan’s™ capacity to create variable thick and thin sections in the juicer’s fruit-like form. Ergonomically, the curved outside keeps the part balanced as the user applies pressure in extracting juice. The lid rotates to adjust level of pulp filtration.
“We envisioned this initiative to show that our new-generation plastics offer better design alternatives than glass or SAN (styrene acrylonitrile)” explained Kieran Smith. and “we chose the housewares segment where we have relevance and can bring near-term value to products.” The Design Academy team included Irwan Azhari from Malaysia and Alex Schultz from New Zealand, and Pelly noted that, “the project presented an unusual opportunity for us, as designers, to work for a material supplier,” explaining, “you have so much more freedom with modern-day plastics, designers in many ways have lost intimacy with materials. This initiative was an effort to regain that intimacy with the material and allowed us free expression.”
“Like period sculptors long ago who used to work with the best marble yards, we took the opportunity to use [Tritan™] as a springboard to bring housewares concepts to a new level,” explained Pelly. He cited the following Tritan™ features as the design highlights:
- “The ability to mold thick and thin parts with Tritan™. The reflection created from the thick parts brings a quality look. It’s exaggerated in the blender, and you could never do this with other materials. With proper design the piece can double or triple the reflection of light. You can show light bouncing and light traveling which adds depth and interest. The movement of light changes the product from static to something with life.”
- “Clarity – there is nothing like the look of crystal. There is a jewelry-like quality in the eggbeater as the material allows tighter tolerance. The detailed ornamentation is like what we used to do in hand-etching and cribbing the old-fashioned way. This allows the designer to make a handcrafted precision look.”
- “Color and tint – the material takes it so well, which gives the product great impact right off the shelf. We used the full spectrum hues for highest vibrancy.”
- “The material ‘plays well with others.’ Designers can combine many materials and change the face. We have combined with stainless steel or coated metal, as featured in the tea kettle. You can have a highly polished surface, dull, matted or tinted, even a watercolor look.”
“It’s a growing social trend to buy fewer, better products,” explained Pelly. “The quality that people want also represents a nod back to our lack of sustainable thinking with so many throwaway products created in the past. These designs are intended to last longer so we wanted a higher level of aesthetics and functionality.” In pursuing that mission through the Tritan™ design initiative, The Design Academy adds a new dimension to the traditional housewares space.