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Do You Need an Architect To Design a Coffee Cup?

November 08, 2011

When it’s an origami coffee cup, you do. And if you add in a graphic designer, you may revolutionize to-go coffee cups! The cup, which even has its own name - the Compleat – won out over 93 other prototypes. Its main advantage over the plastic lidded disposables we’ve sipped our coffee out of for years is the elimination of that very plastic lid. Looks aside, the question on the minds of coffee shop owners is how practical is it. They want to know it won’t leak.





Kathleen Pierce describes how Boston architect Peter Herman held a professional disdain for the plastic lid. Not only did he find it an “environmental insult”, but the combining of two dissimilar materials – plastic and paper – is awkward. Involved in the design of homes and university/institutional buildings, Herman says simplicity is a goal in architecture. And simplify the cup and lid he did. His design is a cup and lid all in one, made possible by the design and origami type folding process. When the lid flaps are closed, a natural drinking spout is formed, resulting in another advantage over the plastic “sippy cup” lid.





Want to guess what Herman was doing when he had the aha moment and caught the vision? Drinking coffee, what else, as he is a coffee lover himself. Herman took his cup idea to graphic designer Daren Bascome, who refined the design into three panels which allow for the printing of a company’s brand or message. Says Bascome, “The average consumer has a paper cup for 16 minutes. That’s 16 minutes that the company has to build a relationship with consumers.” Think of that the next time you enjoy a take-out coffee. The Compleat is aesthetically and environmentally pleasing and certainly something coffee drinkers can adapt to. After all, it’s called “green”. There’s only one option that’s still greener, even though this cup eliminates the plastic waste. The greenest option is using your own reusable travel mug with which there is zero waste. It may not be as convenient, but it offers better durability and heat retention while not contributing to landfill pollution.






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