Margaret Rhodes is an associate editor for Fast Company magazine, where she produces Wanted and covers product design.
Double-walled glass is one of those simple technologies that does a lot with very little. Brands like Thermos and Bodum have tapped the design trick to create drinking vessels that–almost magically–keep liquids piping hot while your hand stays comfortably cool.
A Beijing-based design group called Studio KDSZ is putting a heritage-steeped twist on the double-walled glass cup. Each of the Lil Wai glasses follows a uniform exterior shape, so they feel like a standard tumbler or water beaker, but the curvy inverted interiors are modeled after traditional Chinese pottery shapes, like high-stemmed bowls used for dessert, or the voluptuous olive vases. To find inspiration for those shapes, Studio KDSZ designers researched historic Chinese containers in the collection at the Taiwan National Palace Museum. “Nowadays in China, people may not recognize precisely the name or type of the item, but they can tell those [shapes] are from an ancient time,” says KDSZ founder Chi Hsiao-En. “We think those beautiful items should not be only exhibited in the museum, but be used in our daily life.”
KDSZ–who has designed cutlery and sake sets in the past–is having each glass hand blown by Chinese artisans, and the results are stunning: the kiln-inspired interior forms can make even a seltzer with lemon look museum-worthy.
The Lil Wai glasses run from $9 to $36. Shop the line, here.