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

The Manual Coffeemaker Brings Ritual and Lovely Aesthetics Back Into Coffee Making

Manual Coffeemaker

Manual Coffeemaker

The world of coffee makers seems to be a ripe field for new development. After decades of Mr. Coffee and the rising tide of K-Cups we’re starting to see a concerted effort to appreciate the time and effort it takes to create something of quality, specifically in this case, a cup of coffee. I’ve written about another “high-tech” coffee maker recently, namely the Ratio Eight, but the Manual Coffeemaker seen here is much more simple, more akin to the classic Chemex.

Manual Coffeemaker, or MCM, is a pour-over coffee maker that lives on the countertop in a home or office, like a low-tech appliance. Hot water is gradually poured through fresh ground coffee in a filter, and brewed coffee slowly drips into the carafe, or even directly into your mug.

MCM takes inspiration from manual coffee brewers of the past, but completely redesigns the experience with a new form. Other manual brewers have more in common with pitchers or kitchen funnels, while MCM is designed to be a beautiful freestanding appliance—an appliance you truly love to see on your kitchen counter day after day.

Personally, I find it hard to find time to enjoy such rituals though I appreciate what Manual is trying to do here. Plus it’s nice to bring more beauty into the kitchen. You can pre-order one for your own space by clicking here.

August 6, 2014 / By

Climate Change Could Mean Sour Grapes for Wine Drinkers


Quartz has an interesting article on the effects of climate change on the wine industry and some of the changes we’ll start seeing.

Traditional winemaking strongholds like Tuscany and South Africa will soon become too hot for grape-growing. In fact, by warping the flavors of the most popular varieties and driving production away from the Earth’s poles, climate change is threatening to remake the entire $30-billion global wine industry.

Does that mean a “grape-ocalypse” is upon us? No. But it does mean the wine you sip a decade or two from now will taste very different from today’s tipple—and will be a lot pricier, too.

We’re going to start seeing that by the mid-21st century that the optimal areas for growing grapes will move further and further north. The areas we currently know as “wine countries” will see a 70% decline. You’ll also start to see more Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot being made because they handle heat better. Worst of all, the price of wines will get higher and higher, making your bottle of two buck chuck all but extinct.

August 4, 2014 / By

Mr. Pineapple: The Perfect Beer For Summer

Mr. Pineapple beer by SanTan Brewery

I’m an avid fan of finding unique beers, coming across flavors that you don’t normally get in the average super market aisle. I was browsing through Whole Goods last night and came across this hysterical beer called Mr. Pineapple. Brewed by Arizona based brewery SanTan, this wheat beer is flavored with pineapple which gives it a sort of tropical taste, perfect for the summer. What really caught my eye though was the packaging.

I told my partner Kyle that this feels like the Will Bryant of beers. It’s fun, it’s irreverent, and you’re totally ready to drink one as soon as you get your hands on it. Good luck getting your hands on a six pack.

July 30, 2014 / By

I Am A Food Blog Gets Recipes Right With Stunning Photos and Spot-On Type

I Am A Food Blog

I Am A Food Blog

I find it rare to come across a good food site that doesn’t look like a stock blog template or is filled with nothing but hokey desert recipes (I have a savory palette).

That’s why it’s exciting to come across a site like I Am A Food Blog, the passion project of Stephanie Le. Her photos are spotless and with every recipe she creates what you could call a “logo” which makes each dish feel unique. Not sure how anyone could resist dishes like Sriracha Honey Lime Chicken, Bacon and Egg Grilled Cheese Breakfast Sandwich, or Mac and Cheese Pie!

You can pre-order her cookbook by clicking here.

July 29, 2014 / By

The Art of The Perfect Boiled Egg

There’s nothing simpler than boiling an egg, but perfecting it is a whole other story. Bon Appetit put together a handy guide to boiling an egg to the correct consistency, for say, a salad nicoise or a hearty shoyu ramen. It goes to show that attention to detail is important in not only design, but everything we do.

How To Boil An Egg - Photo by Danny Kim

July 24, 2014 / By

Mary Wong, A Well-Designed Noodle Bar In Eastern Russia

Mary Wong Noodle Bar

When you think of the locations of fancy ramen bars, Eastern Russia may not be the first place you think of. That’s the location of Mary Wong, a noodle bar located in Rostov-on-Don that was designed by the team at Fork, a studio based in Moscow. They did an incredible job with the branding and the build out, opting to do stay away from the tropes of “Asian” design and instead focus on the materials to evoke a certain feeling.

Mary Wong Noodle Bar

I feel like the vibe of the space is contemporary with a touch of cyberpunk, thanks to all the concrete and neon. It doesn’t lean too far into the sci-fi aesthetic though thanks to the copious amounts of wood in the floors, stools, and main table. Overall it’s a really fun space that would be welcomed in any city.

Mary Wong Noodle Bar

Mary Wong Noodle Bar

Mary Wong Noodle Bar

Mary Wong Noodle Bar

July 24, 2014 / By

A Food Art Project That Transforms Dough Into Colorful Bread Balloons

'Blow Dough' Transforms Bread Into Colorful Balloons

'Blow Dough' Transforms Bread Into Colorful Balloons

If I asked you to recreate the idea of bread, would you have any idea of what you’d try to create? If you asked Omer Polak, Michal Evyatar, and Erez Komorovsky, they’d tell you that they’d blow it up. Or at least that’s what they’ve done with their project Blow Dough which utilizes an industrial blower that bakes dough into bread balloons.

Each of the doughs is made with herbs as well juices like beet, carrot, and spinach, which gives each balloon a distinct color. What you can’t sense is that it also makes each room smell incredible, fully activating your sense of smell as well.

'Blow Dough' Transforms Dough Into Colorful Bread Balloons

Their process in making the dough is rather interesting as well.

The process included many experiments in the workshops kitchen. It was a great challenge to succeed in creating dough that is very flexible and can also come thin for baking and the eating experience. We worked almost like scientists, we wrote time, quantities, and temperature that we could produce the exact dough.

I find this whole project to be so entertaining. It’s such a great intersection between art, food, and science. Projects like this make the old adage “Don’t play with your food” completely obsolete.

Read and see more about this project on designboom.

July 22, 2014 / By