Tea is the world’s favourite beverage, with coffee leading the way only in certain countries such as Germany, and even there, tea-drinking is making massive strides among the young and hip.
Along with tea drinking’s advance, there’s a parallel growth in the influence of Japanese design on teaware in Europe.
The design company Alessi, for example, hired Japan’s Naoto Fukasawa to come up with a combined teapot and kettle called the Cha. Easy to pour thanks to its generously sized handle, his design also prevents a hand from getting too close to any hot plate.
Dutch design duo Scholten & Baijings combined the worlds of European afternoon tea with the Japanese tea ceremony in its Tea With Georg tableware service collection.
Canada-born, Denmark-based designer Francis Cayouette has matched northern European tradition with east Asian style in his Theo teapot. It’s made from stoneware with a cast-iron finish. It feels Scandinavian, but has an Asian touch thanks to its bamboo lid and handle.
Tea-related design also happens to be changing in Japan, where the finest porcelain has been made in the town of Arita since 1616. Last year international designers were invited to Arita as part of project to unite Asian know-how and Western creativity with the goal of securing porcelain’s future. German designer Stefan Diez created a 26-piece teaset for the Japanese pottery company Kawazoe Siezan.
“Arita porcelain is a timeless material, but the products made there in recent years no longer lived up to modern tastes,” says Diez.
“For my design I opted to leave out the traditional Japanese foot and to design the handles on the cups and teapots in the shape of a water drop. That immediately created a more modern look.”
The spate of recent teaset redesigns is not limited to breathing a touch of Asia on them.
Major European companies such as Porzellan Manufaktur Berlin (PMB) are also finding their own way into the 21st century. PMB recently brought out a range of new-look tea cups with pastel-toned edging.
“It’s a very subtle form of colouring, not in your face,” says chief designer Thomas Wenzel.
My China! Ca’ d’Oro porcelain tableware from the Sieger by Furstenberg brand is decorated with fine black-and-white contrasting squares and circles and burnished gold accents.
For designer Michael Sieger it symbolises “the golden house, precious time and those many special moments that we spend with our loved ones and with the nice things in life”.
Illustrator Lina Ekstrand created the collection Wunderland for chinamaker Dibbern using floral patterns for her inspiration.
Jewellery designer Helena Rohner created her eponymously named Helena teapot for the manufacturer Georg Jensen to look a little like a steamship. Also part of the new range is a very practical tea infuser made from steel. – dpa/Uta Abendroth