Project Proposal

Phase 0  

Project description

“The Essence of Tea” is a device that allows the user to interact and be immersed into the traditional tea brewing process in a comfortable fashion.



I have always had a deep interest in tea and find the art form fascinating; this is something that I do not share with any of my family or friends. On looking into this I discovered that tea is the most popular beverage in the world (98% drink it in one form or another) but the rituals and passion behind its art has been lost along the way. In the western world most people drink tea for convenience; they want it quick and drink it fast. The enjoyment of the brewing process is has been lost.


Overall goal

To educate people about the art form of tea and to interest more people about its fascinating brewing process.


Why this project?

Because I have a deep interest in the tea brewing process and would like to both educate myself further and bring the art form to light in a western world.


Phase 1



Description of people issue and Identified need

People that wish to interact with different types of teas and wish to interact with traditional tea brewing cultures. I believe this to be a very small area and I feel this is due to the fact that most people are set in there way with the current British style of drinking tea. There is a lack of understanding of where tea comes from and I wish to identify and target the people that want to understand.


Who are your users?

Any member of the public that has an interest in tea or trying different teas in a controlled environment. There is a possibility for my product to be used in teahouses throughout the country as an added on extra to the customers drinking experience.


How will you involve users?

I will find out how people perceive tea currently and ask them how they currently interact with tea. I wish to find out just how popular different methods of tea brewing are in this culture that we live in. it is also important to ask the public if they see a need for such a product as this and if not, why?


Is ethical approval required?

I will hold focus groups with my peers and also conduct interviews with Dundee’s local teahouses and related businesses. I will hand out informed consent forms before I conduct any interviews to allow me to use the information I have gained during any interviews.




What is the role of design here?

My role within this design is to create a valued experience for the user and to bring back an emotional connection to the art of tea brewing.


Other considerations….what about aesthetics?

I will look into the Japanese world view of “Wabi-Sabi” and will make appropriate use of traditional materials, In this form of design the aesthetics and materials used are extremely important with allowing the user to experience the true meaning of the product. Without an appropriate use of aesthetics the product will not correct reflect the appropriate values that I wish to incorporate within the design.


….What about environmental?

The art of tea and the traditional ceremony’s that are conducted in celebration of tea all reflect the fact that tea is a natural product and is very highly respected. Due to this my design will respect naturel at its very core and this will be reflected in its aesthetics. A no waste approach seems appropriate.


What production quality are you aiming for?

I am aiming to achieve a very high quality design to reflect the art form and craftsmanship that goes into the design and delivery of tea.




How is technology involved?

In the western world a large amount of the population does not know how to correctly brew different teas. For example almost every tea has to be brewed differently. The average British person will just boil the kettle and pour the water in, leaving to steep very briefly. This can damage the tea and hence destroy the flavour.


Technology can be implemented to remedy this difficulty and allow the user to easily make a cup of tea even if they do not exactly know how. I have been looking into technology that will also allow the user to enjoy the experience more by adding subtle effects such as a heated cup or an aroma amplifier.


What do you need to master? Or to understand?

I deeper understanding of the functionality of Arduino or how to incorporate this into a device such as a tea aid would be beneficial. I would also like to understand how to make a device that uses heat very often operate from a non mains means.


Hardware? Software?



  What aspect will you Dive into, deeply?

My major theme will be around the ritual and art form of tea and about allowing the user to experience the joy behind it. This is something I believe all people can feel if shown how.


My secondary theme will be around making the user feel comfortable in their experience and hence have a want to develop their understanding of the art further.


  Innovation or Improvement?

I believe that my design is an improvement; I say this as I wish to bring a currently devised and highly traditional tea brewing process to the western world and allow the users within my own culture to experience the beauty of another. The western world has their own process to brew tea that is very different to ten traditional processes that are so highly valued in the east. I wish to morph appropriately.


Phase 2 making What are you standing next to at your Degree Show?

I will be standing next to a beautifully crafted piece of design that reflects the beauty of the traditional cultural values of the origin of tea.

To achieve this I will need access to information of the cultural values of tea as to gain a full understanding of how the piece should be crafted. Book reading and desk based research will be a good starting point but talking to current teahouse owners and tea experts in the local area will give me a more all-round understanding of how my market perceives tea culture.

I will also need to gain vital user group information about how the public will perceive the device. I will start by discovering how tea is perceived in the current market and how people currently prepare it.

Materiality will be of upmost importance if I am to appropriately relate and reflect traditional tea culture within my product and so a deep understanding of the materiality of tea will be necessary.


& communicating What might the main story be: setting a broader context? your process? something else? Who are your audience?

Originally it was about the loss of traditional tea culture in the west but through research I have begun to realise that its more about the beauty of traditional methods and the culture behind them most popular beverage worldwide. Tea drinking in the east is such a respected art and way to address each other, in the west this art form and elegance is replaced by a negative stereotype that it’s for the morning only or for builders during their breaks. I wish to communicate my design in a more cultured and elegant manor.


… beyond














What do you want to do after graduating? And where?

Once I graduate I would love to spend my time working with a small group of people that are all equally passionate about their work. In the context of a desired disciplinary area, I am not sure. I gain all my drive and motivation working within areas that I am passionate about and that I feel I can have a valid say. As long as I am working within an area of industry that meets this need I will be happy.

In the context of this project. I know I will enjoy my time working on it due to these reasons. I am passionate about this area and I can clearly see the destination. This is the form of project that I can see myself getting up in the morning exited to progress with.


Your hopes

In my opinion success come in the form of the ability to walk up to someone without any fear and talk about what you have just done with the up most of confidence and passion. I hope that in the next few months I can do this without any hesitation. Once I have done this, I have succeeded.


Your fears

The biggest fear that I have for this project, something that I share in most of my projects, comes in the form of understanding. I have a distinct fear of developing my concept to a final stage and then realise that I have done something wrong due to my lack of understanding. I most fear lacking understanding in the cultural aspect. As I will be doing a lot of work into eastern culture I fear I will miss something and offend the culture that I am trying to celebrate.










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