Electric Kettle for MUJI 無印良品

The goal of this project is to design and make a prototype model of a electric kettle for a existing brand. I chose MUJI because I admire their no branding strategy and simplistic design. I studied some of their products especially some invisibly thoughtful details.
muji Here are some preliminary sketches in order to figure out a direction I want to go next. Scan 1 Scan 2 Scan 3 Scan 4 ScanSome more thumbnail sketches for a quick brain stretch. I really like the bottom right ones.thumbnail
Here are some cad models I did for a specific design. This is a smaller kettle (4″*4″*7″) and supposed to boil a teapot-full of water at once (since MUJI already has a big volume kettle available.)

I created a little slot for the lid to sit on handle when you pour cold water in it.7

Pour from both sides for right handed and left handed people. The angled corners make it a nice pour.
1Bottom of the base will have space for wire storage when it’s not in use.
2I haven’t decided on the mechanism to connect the kettle to its base, but the handle is a separated piece screwed on with set screws. The base and lid mirror each other to create a balance.
3With wood accent:4Pure white version:5I went to make paper models of different forms.

_BAI3550 _BAI3551 _BAI3552 _BAI3553 _BAI3554 _BAI3555

I found out that the handle I had in the CAD file is not the most easy to hold and pour. Also the side pouring idea is more suitable for smaller or shorter container. I also learned from the book MUJI that their designers actually try to use paper models instead of CAD as often as possible so they are discouraged of unnecessary details. In the process of making paper models I definitely felt that I was over designing.

I revisited this idea again and focused on how to make the handle connected to the kettle body in a more “MUJI” way.sketch101314I really liked the shape with square profile with only one pointed corner to suggest the motion. I made three more models on this idea and this time I was focusing on volume make the handle be a part of the form.

_BAI3539_BAI3540_BAI3541_BAI3542_BAI3543_BAI3549_BAI3545_BAI3546After feeling different models by hands I think the one with wooden handle that’s hidden inside the form is the most comfortable one to hold. The size is good enough for one to two people. When put on the kitchen counter it takes very little space. Overall I think that is the form I’m really satisfied with.

Radius exploration—this one has a more understated radius, which made the wooden handle seamlessly connected to the form.

untitled.70 untitled.72 untitled.74

This version has a much more exaggerated corners to emphasize the pointed one as the pouring corner.  untitled.76 untitled.77 untitled.78untitled.79 (2)

Added Base:untitled.81untitled.82untitled.83untitled.84untitled.85Making full scale foam model:

kettle 102014_3rough cutPhoto Oct 22, 8 24 36 PM clamp 2 pieces to have big enough block of foam to build modelPhoto Oct 22, 8 30 15 PMcut into 3 parts, send surfacePhoto Oct 22, 9 23 48 PMwet mount them together and sand the whole form
Photo Oct 22, 10 04 16 PM cut the elevation bottomPhoto Oct 23, 7 54 52 PM pull three parts apartPhoto Oct 23, 8 13 32 PM cut the middle part  as well as prepare the dole handlePhoto Oct 23, 8 31 56 PM assembly everything together, apply wood glue and clampPhoto Oct 23, 9 10 28 PMwait for the glue to dry while apply wood filler
Photo Oct 23, 9 21 10 PM paint the kettle bottle first, cover the wooden dole with tapePhoto Oct 23, 9 43 19 PM remove the tape after 2 layers of gesso and 4 layers of spray paintPhoto Oct 25, 11 28 17 AM apply wood finishing oil.Photo Oct 25, 11 35 29 AMHere is the final model:
_BAI3562_BAI3561The elevated bottom fits the base._BAI3567Base as this slot for wire_BAI3564Storage for wire at the bottom
_BAI3565Hand held position
_BAI3569_BAI3573Apply simple graphic on top to suggest the lid position._BAI3570


After I presented my kettle, I accidentally encountered two kettles from two designers that are very similar to mine. http://www.yankodesign.com/2009/01/05/affordable-water-kettle-bad-economic-times/ and http://www.yankodesign.com/2010/08/17/square-coffee/

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