An Interview with Joey Roth, Who Brings A Newly Refined Design to the Sorapot

Sorapot by Joey Roth

I’ve been a fan of industrial designer Joey Roth for over five years now, and his commitment to quality has always been one of the traits I admire most about him. Recently he released a newly refined version of his infamous Sorapot teapot which is a marvel of design. The upgrades he’s made have transformed the object into the true vision he had for the product all along. Curious about these refinements and his future plans, I asked Joey a few questions to get some background.

Your original version of the Sorapot was the first product you released, and I’m curious to know what spurred your desire to make a teapot in the first place?
I love brewing and drinking tea almost as much as coffee, but it’s interesting to me as a designer because of the ritual involved in its preparation and enjoyment. The slow reversion of steeping tea leaves from dry rolled up balls to the full, translucent forms that were picked from camellia bushes is a transformation worth emphasizing through design. The Sorapot is a frame for this process, each of its design gestures playing a supporting role rather than taking over.

Sorapot by Joey Roth

Some may not know that this is a “refined” version of the original design, could you describe some of the changes and improvements you’ve made?
Sorapot 2 is a realization of my original design intent, enabled by better investment casting technology and my growth as a designer. It’s 40% lighter, its geometry is held to tighter tolerances, and it uses about half the stainless steel of version 1. I also re-engineered the spout to eliminate dripping and simplified the opening and closing operation. I made these improvements to eliminate annoying experiences like dripping and enhance pleasurable experiences like the feeling of a slightly warm stainless steel handle, further reducing the friction between the user and the tea.

Sorapot by Joey Roth

These days we always seem to be so busy with our lives. Do you think there’s anything significant about the process of making tea? There is a bit of work that goes into it.
I optimized Sorapot’s design for richness of experience rather than efficiency. Efficiency is a great design goal for cars or medical devices, but efficient tea comes in a bag and brews in microwaved water. Tea encourages single-minded focus and patience, and rewards manual preparation. Sorapot is designed to be a precise but completely manual tool for making, appreciating and serving tea that requires significant user participation. That said, I optimized the individual steps, such as cleaning and pouring, for efficiency, in the service of a rich experience.

Do you feel like you’ve truly realized your vision for the Sorapot?
I’ve realized my vision as of now, but it is continually growing.

Any other food-related products on the horizon?
I’m working on a coffee maker in collaboration with a Bay Area roaster that will be launched later this year.

It’s clear that Joey as a designer truly cares about the experience of the objects that bear his name. Many people would have said “good enough” and moved on to the next thing. I love that he decided that he didn’t get it right the first time and did something about it.

You can preorder the Sorapot now by clicking here.

August 6, 2014 / By