Bruce Hanington

Designer’s Dilemma: Coffee Makers

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Once again I was able to turn a simple shopping decision into a classic designer’s dilemma, debating the pro and con factors of function, style, and the environment. My Krups coffee maker suddenly died (literally, made coffee in the morning, by noon it behaved like it was unplugged). Like many products designed by my profession, I suspected it would not be fixable, and sure enough after some online research and a call to Krups, that suspicion was confirmed. After overcoming my conscience at discarding yet another failed appliance by blaming it on “the system”, I turned my attention to replacement. Boy, that Keurig we have at work sure is convenient and makes a perfect cup of decaf on demand for me every day… but, the obvious environmental downsides of those little disposable pods, coupled with per-cup and per-pound coffee calculations made available online by others who have conveniently done the math for me, eventually shamed me away from this option. I looked briefly at the beautifully colored “Bella Dots” line at Target, which turn out to be much more captivating in photos than upon close inspection of material and manufacturing quality (although they are well reviewed).

Bella Dots coffee makers from Target

Then I remembered the Bodum French press. Not to sound preachy here, but these things require no filters and no peripheral supplies aside from boiled water and your coffee. After doing my usual round of research and conversations with colleagues more connoisseur than me, I confirmed that this simple system also makes great coffee, if done right. I picked up the 8-cup Chambord at Bed Bath and Beyond, and a nice Aroma electric kettle at Target, placed them both on a simple silver tray where the giant Krups once stood, and I now have an elegant looking ritual designed for my morning routine. Keurig remains my indulgence at work (justified by the saving of multiple wasted pots of coffee each day); and as for Krups.. I was able to donate it for dissection to my colleague Steve for his “How Things Work” course. It’s all good.

The Bodum Chambord French Press.
Buying a coffee maker: Keeping industrial design in business, but on its toes.

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