WINNING THE TEA BOX DESIGN COMPETITIONProfile
by Camilla Tufte Sand, AA Fifth Year
27 November 2015
Bedford Square, London
The starting point for the tea box was at the British Museum, using it as a passageway to get to school every morning. By walking through the exhibitions, I passed several cabinets of boxes, jars, and other forms of storage to contain beautiful objects from various eras and purposes; jewellery, coins, pills, even some for intestines from ancient Egypt. The most specific ones were made with various compartments; scaled to suit it's contents, highly bespoke objects for a particular purpose. Others were more obscure, and only assumptions could be made, and the imagination harnessed to guess at its content.
The ambition became to create a curiosity on a nightstand table within the rooms at MyHotel Bloomsbury. An object revealing a glimpse of its content, before folding out and fully revealing what the inside was hiding.
The hierarchy of what to reveal first as well as the order in which it was opened was important, so the organisation of this procession shaped the design from the beginning.
The brief for the tea box design competition emphasised that it should express Bloomsbury where one of the MyHotels is located as well as taking into consideration the profile of the hotel, in terms of feng shui and sustainability. Beyond containing tea and other standard complimentary sachets of coffee, sugar, etc., few other requirements were set out.
Each element in the box required a separate compartment. By playing with various ideas and looking into solutions for the moment of opening the object, it led me to the classic Danish sewing stands in teak from the 1950s as a source of inspiration. I found inspiration in the way they have divisions for specific elements, in various sizes, but all as freestanding pieces folding out to reveal a series of chambers.
Using the dimensions of the content, a compartment was designated for each element; the tea, the coffee, the sugar, to define the size of the box with a compartment for each element. The decision to sign up for this competition was simple: the chance to design a small bespoke object. Having prior experience of studying fine arts, I have participated in several non-architectural competitions, and do a lot of jewellery making, so I was quite excited about creating the tea box as a short-term design project.
Being able to develop a design from the early stage of simple sketches to the point where the design could be physically realised was what I found most appealing. Having to be specific for Bloomsbury, I abstracted, in my opinion, the most distinctive element of the area- the expansive and designed squares that provide spaces for rest and relaxation within the city.
Other essentials defining the area are the old deciduous trees and the distinctive Georgian architecture, in particular the arched and rectangular windows.
The pattern on the top of the box was created by synthesizing the architectural facades and silhouettes of the local flora from the perspective of the centre of each square. The colour scheme came from the pallette of the hotel room, where the golden yellow was a common feature.
Winning the competition is of course exciting. Throughout the process, I made all the final pieces myself using smaller objects from exhibitions and other found objects.
Producing the winning proposal comes with the commission to gain experience through the creation of the final outsourced prototype, with the process of refining it to the quality I sought after.
The current status of the project is to adjust the prototype further. I am looking forward to co-designing the tea box with a supplier as well as collaborating with MyHotel to see the finalised box.
For more information:
Camilla Tufte Sand
Tea Box Design Competition Brief