Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat

On The Difficulty of Serving Tea (2011)

Traditional North African teapot and glasses, spoon, wood, pulleys and rope – Tea leaves, mint leaves, hot water, and sugar cubes to be added for the full experience.

This teapot set highlights the challenges behind the art of serving tea – and in particular traditional North African mint tea. An ancestral ritual is revisited. A set of pulleys, lots of string, a forgiving plate and a catapult invite participants into a strenuous, yet playful, challenge.


Sarah Angliss

Relic (2011)

Embossed aluminium teapot, Arduino, electronic components and cut glass

I’ve captured a fragment of the voice of Queen Elizabeth II in this relic from 1953: an aluminium teapot, polished to resemble silver and embossed to mimic the Imperial State Crown. You can manipulate this recording by picking up and moving the teapot. The 8-bit electronic voice and the teapot which contains it are both cheap, unconvincing simulacra. Each feels like a throwback to the past which itself is mimicking something all the more arcane. When I spotted the teapot in a Gloucester junk shop, I expected it to ring like a silver bell but found it had a disappointing, tinny sound as it’s made from pressed aluminium. Something about it reminded me of the upper class ‘cut glass’ accent, a sound I have always found rather tinny. The queen herself has been softening her accent and warming the timbre of her vowels over the sixty years (J. Harrington et al, 2000).

The voice is a downsampled, 4 second fragment of the Queen’s Christmas speech from 1957. I’ve stored this as an 8-bit, 6kHz sample on an Arduino board. The Arduino plays this at a varying rate, according to the movement or angle of the teapot which is measured using an accelerometer.  The playback method uses pulse-width modulation coupled with a low-pass filter, amplifier and speaker to convert the sample back into sound.

Rain Ashford

Teapotty! (2011)

Plastic teapot, electronic components, plastic cups, magnets, heart confetti

Teapotty! is a teapot sitting on a servo which takes readings from a magnetometer which is influenced by neodymium magnets in a cup. The magnetometer takes the reading from the north position, plays a bit of something similar to the Tetley Tea tune and then moves to a new position where the teacup moves to. BlinkM RGB LEDs indicate the new position of the teapot by changing colour based on the teapot’s new position from 0-180 degrees. I made some polymorph diffuser covers for them and also added heart confetti to emphasise the feeling of heart-warming happiness a cup of tea can bring :-)

Katrin Baumgarten

Raging Roger (2011)

Porcelain teapot, copper, electronic components, water pump, ball bearing, servo motor, infrared sensor

What if an everyday object suddenly would strike back? Raging Roger, the spitting teapot, scans its environment turning 180 degrees back and forth, stops as soon as a person in close proximity is detected and spits at him.

Tine Bech

LightPot (2011)

Glass teapot, wire, Arduino, GSM playground, LED lights

LightPot is an interactive light teapot. It is like a small electronic creature, when you text the name of a colour to the LightPot it will change colour. The teapot is a classic glass teapot augmented with lots of white wire. Hidden inside the LightPot are electronics and LED lights. The light reflects in the white wire, changing the teapots appearance every time the audience sends a new text message, with a new colour.

The interface is simple, text ‘red’, ‘pink’, ‘cyan’ etc. to +44 (0)7530 450 348 and wait for the colour to change!

Clare Bowman

Homing (2011)

Missile switch cover, switch, Arduino, battery, piezo, LED, diffuser

The apocalyptic teapot is a planned heirloom, created to preserve the great tradition of tea drinking. In case of civilisation breakdown, the teapot will act as a homing device. The user is led to a capsule buried underground containing tea, utensils and an envelope of objects encapsulating home for four generations of O’Shea women.

Tea drinking items: an origami kettle, cup and stirrer, teabag, sugar cube and powdered milk.

O’Shea items: a recipe, lavender, playing card and an ultrasound, represent food, rest, play and family from Nana, Mum, Clare and future daughter Nixie

Originally, the apocalyptic teapot used three LDRs taped to the screen of an Android device. For increased reliability, the V&A demonstration prototype now has a three axis tilt-compensating LSM303DLH Magnetometer. The next revision will incorporate a Venus GPS breakout and patch aerial.

Together the apocalyptic teapot and tea capsule provide reassurance to tea lovers that the civilised world’s favourite beverage will always be preserved.

Shu Lea Cheang

Stormy Weather Stirred (2011)

Yellow teapot, NanoSmano Sajica circuit board, speaker and five tea bags

I found this yellow Tetley teapot laying quietly among vintage silver Morrocan teapots in the cupboard at the home of madame Rokia Ben Brahim, a 93 year old Algerian woman working all her life as a cleaning lady in Paris.

In a workshop conducted by Marc Dusseiller at la Fonderie de l’Image, I soldered Vive la Resistance aka NanoSmano Sajica, a mini circuit with an oscillator and a resistive gas sensor. I installed the NanoSmano Sajica inside the teacup, leaving its circuit board hanging out along with other tea bag labels. It produces sound responding to touch and breath.

Tetley was the first company to launch tea in tea bags in the United Kingdom in 1953. Tea leaves packed into instant tea bags, no fortune to be told. Storm in the teacup, storm out of the teacup. A cup of tea for stormy weather.

Stormy Weather, a song written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler, first recorded by Ethel Waters in 1933, later recorded & reinterpreted by a string of fine musicians.

Touch the circuit board. Blind read the fortune. The noise storms out of the teapot, amplified anarchy. The blue tune of Stormy Weather meets the teapot upheaval, stormy weather stirred and disturbed.

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino and Campbell Orme

Utah (2011)

Nylon, acrylic paint and varnish

Utah is a response to the Utah teapot, a standard reference object in the computer graphics community. The complexity of the object lies in the different types of curves that make it up, and therefore make it one of the most difficult objects to learn how to build in 3D. The original teapot given by MzTEK was rendered as accurately as possible and divided into pieces which were then prototyped using SLS technology (selective laser sintering). The pieces were then painted to make them look as close to porcelain as possible, but in areas which aren’t usually glazed, and ignoring some key areas that should. The ubiquity of this everyday object is forgotten and the object, its process and materials, made to be reconsidered in light of new technologies.

Anna Dumitriu

Biohacked Tea Cosy (2011)

Bacteria, calico, embroidery silk, natural antibiotics, video player, film of bacteria under the microscope

The Biohacked Tea Cosy employed ‘kitchen science’ or DIYbio techniques to embed the cloth with pigments from normal flora bacteria from forgotten remains of milky tea left overnight. The embroidery is made using silk stained with natural antibiotics, including green tea and cloves. The process employed in its production could potentially be used to selectively breed green tea ‘resistant’ organisms and investigates our complex and precarious relationship with the microbial world, which we still know relatively little about.

Julie Freeman

Tea Flock (2011)

Ceramic teapots, syrian dwarf hamster, electronic components

A dynamic gaggle of unfilled vessels flock to tea-rich lands for a nourishing brew.

Social tea rituals fulfill global migration and are hacked into local cultures. Gathering for coffee, shoaling for cake, flocking for tea…

Tea Flock infuses migrating rituals and represents emerging patterns through the group behaviour of objects, using data from migratory birds to-and-from tea-growing


Sound Mapping London Tea Houses (2011)

Hardware: glass teapot, IR LED’s, electronic components, wooden box with dual layer perspex top, projector, laptop, speakers, IR camera

Software: reacTIVision, Max/MSP, Processing

Navigate London through its contemporary tea culture. Place the teapot on a borough of your choice to hear the sounds of tea houses from that locale. Inspired by London’s vibrant tea drinking culture, this interactive sonic map explores different places and spaces where tea drinking is taking place. Through listening in, the spatial and social aspects of tea houses are unveiled. Sound Mapping London Tea Houses invites visitors to share the sounds and stories of their own favourite tea house in London.

The work is developed using reacTIVision, an open source, cross-platform computer vision framework for tangible user interfaces, Max/MSP and Processing. Sounds were recorded on different devices by G.Hackers: Nela Brown, Ilze Black, Alice Clifford, Nicola Plant, Kavin Preethi Narasimhan, Sam Duffy and Sara Heitlinger. G.Hack is an art and technology lab for women at Queen Mary University of London.

Syuzi Pakhchyan

PC = TB + 2BT + 6WT (2011)

Electroluminescent film, electronic components, mirrored-plexiglass

PC = TB + 2BT + 6WT is an abridged scientific formula for a perfect cup of tea. This project reflects on the concept of perfectibility, specifically the use of science and technology to seek the chimera of perfection. Today algorithms are used to identify a perfect “love” match, scientifically tested formulas are discovered for the perfect cup of tea and, in the near future, science and technology will help us attain human perfection through the genetic design of our offspring.

As human experiences are obviously subjective, can science and technology really be used to harness human nature?

The form of the teapot itself was inspired by origami: its structured, formulaic and repeatable design. The teapot cycles through three different patterns of light reflecting the brew time, wait time and pour time.

Artemis Papageorgiou

This Is Not A Teapot (2011)

Polyester teapots with Sound Playback Module

This Is Not A Teapot is inspired by the semiotics of language used in the homonym painting of Magritte (Ceci n’est pas une pipe). What happens to an object when its formal language does not speak of the object anymore? What is a teapot enhanced with different functions and materiality?

The project attempts to break down objectivity into isolated parts, the form and function, and collage them into a new object reminiscent of a teapot. By replicating an ordinary teapot out of different materials and electronics a hybrid object is now conceived, definitely not a teapot.

Mika Satomi 

Suicidal Teapot (2011)

Fabric, thread spool, wire, thermoplastic, conductive thread, LilyPad Arduino, electronic components

Suicidal Teapot is a teapot, which hits itself until it breaks. We may sympathize with its action as an attempt of suicide, or may observe its motion as a pure mechanical function. In any case, the self-destruction continues until the teapot shatters into pieces, splashing out the tea it contains.

The destruction will be completed with high-voltage short-circuit blast on the fabric circuit beneath. You may use this teapot as a suicidal apparatus, by sitting beside with a cup of tea and waiting until the final moment arrives. If you are lucky, you will be “properly” electrocuted.

Acknowledgement: I would like to thank Gabriel Wegscheider and Ingo Randolf for their support and advice during the first prototyping phase. I believe technology is there for both man and woman.

Eunjoo Shin

Bow & Tea (2011)

Aluminium, acrylic panel, resin, custom-made hardware

Bow & Tea is a designed device, which suggests humorous tea-making and serving for others by controlling the speed of dropping tea leaves. With this given process, we can share enjoyable tea break and bow for thankful serving.