Nachtmann Next-Gen Challenge was a contest/commission/collaboration held by German crystal company Nachtmann, under Riedel. The collaboration took form as a course taught by both RISD professors and a designer from Nachtmann. The objective of the course is for each student to design 2 sets of crystal tabletop collection for their Next-Gen Challenge.
The course started with a trip to Germany and Austria sponsored by Nachtmann. In the trip we first presented our preliminary trend research to the marketing team and brainstormed in their showroom, then we visited several facilities of Nachtmann, Riedel and Spiegelau. We also took trips to several malls to study how the products are showcased to the public. Plus, we also visited museums and IDEO Munich. It was a fun trip. We officially entered design process when we got back to RISD.
BARWARE COLLECTION #1: ENCLOSE
Enclose is a concept that uses crystal to reference bent, stacked paper. This is very hard to achieve through traditional glass cutting technique, but easy to achieve through casting. The language of the glass takes on wrapping, offsetting and playing with tilting and change of thickness. This concept is a celebration of factory production and machine manufacturing.
The inspiration of Enclose not only comes from paper, but also comes from architectural forms and spaces. It also references Richard Serra’s sculpture. The intention is to condense the spatial dynamic of large atmosphere into the size of a glass.
Insight extracted from the initial trend research:
•A simple, slick, clean aesthetic is the modern trend for both objects and spaces.
•It is trending to employ combination of geometry, with less decoration.
We re-organized Nachtmann's Catalog according to styles and forms, trying to study the pattern of the market and customers they are hitting or missing, and better for us to identify the realm for our designs.
ENCLOSE is logical and geometric. It expresses a rational, quiet and calm feeling, it also expresses an office vibe. It is more form-driven and less decorative. ENCLOSE is most expected to fit into modern homes or office-style environments.
Experiments were done to explore the property and character of paper—single sheet, few sheets, and stacks.
The moment when 2 parts cross and overlay is the highlight of the vessels.
The technique was also applied onto different categories of objects to study the possibility of assembling multiple flaps into a container.
The form evolves throughout the process, different iterations were modeled to adjust the overlap features and the overall shape.
The evolution of prototypes focuses on the exploration of form and proportion, and also user experience (drinkability) and manufacturing ability.
ENCLOSE essentially consist of 2 or 3 panels and a base. Details to elevate the wrapping are placed on the edges of the planes. The edged with detail are also designed to place the parting lines, These glasses are expected to be molded in a 2 or 3 part mold with a plunger.
BARWARE COLLECTION #1: 山 (SHAN)
SHAN (mountain) is a play of dimensions. It is a play of geology inside a glass. I was attracted to the idea of that a 2D composition on a rectangular plane can wrap around a glass and become its texture and alter its spatial form. This idea leads me to something that lies within my culture—Chinese Scroll Paintings of mountains. In scroll paintings, the mountains are slowly revealed as you unroll the scroll. With the SHAN concept, the form and refraction of mountains continuously reveal and evolve as you hold and turn the glass
Chinese ink paintings of mountains are usually very stylized instead of realistic.Tons of different painting methods are applied to translate the space and depth of mountains and valleys. I was inspired to translate these elements from traditional ink paintings to modern luxury glassware.
SHAN is designed to be more exuberant both visually and tactilely. SHAN is imagined to complement an immersive dining experience or to enhance a personal at-home drinking experience.
SHAN is more decorative and has lots of character, it is designed to be favorable for bars and restaurants and also customers that want more decorative glassware to enhance their drinking experience.
Ink painting techniques and styles were practiced and extrapolated.
I am drawn to the idea that each layer is carved into the glass instead of protruding out. Since the bottom of the glass has a much thicker wall, layers get thicker and shorter as it digs inward into the glass. This texture and pattern also provide a more ergonomic grab.
Different forms were experimented to complement the mountain feature. Since the feature itself already has lots of presence, it makes the most sense to apply a simple form with subtle curvature changes.
Texture studies on different materials were committed to explore the pattern and the tactility of different texture and depths.
Paper model to test out concept, Foam model to test out the overall form and feel to hold, 3D printed prototypes to test out the refined versions.
The glasses are expected to have a 3-part mold with a plunger. The Parting line should follow the pink line (skip to the lower line if needed) to the bottom. When modeling for production, the edges are filleted more as they are closer to the bottom, so that the edges can achieve even fillets after fire polishing.
BARWARE COLLECTION #3: BAMBOO
A simple, tasteful blend between natural plantation and traditional cut glass aesthetic.
The drawings and prototypes aim to develop a form in the balance of abstraction and realism.
Several presentations were given to the designer and marketing team from Nachtmann and professors along the progress. Nachtmann eventually chose 2 designs from the class to consider for production, ENCLOSE was one of the two.
Considering Nachtmann's factory capability of manufacturing crystal, and the potential markets that Nachtmann can enter, I also designed glass tiles for them. The shape allows different functionalities, as room dividers, or framed into the wall, even roof lighting fixtures. The wavy form allows light to transmit smoothly yet providing certain level of privacy.