Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Less Is More

On a recent trip to Amman, I indulged myself in a visit to hamam, the traditional Turkish baths. After elaborate, long treatment (a subject for another story), on my way out I was served a glass of hot Turkish tea.  A curious small glass had no handle, nor was any glass holder provided. Thirsty, I tried to pick it up, but couldn’t  – the glass was too hot. "This is not very smart," I thought, as my memory evoked the images of elaborate silver-plated glass holders, common in a Russian tea service.

I had to wait a few minutes. When I finally managed to lift the glass, I found the tea perfectly hot – and not scalding, as was often the case with the first sip from a Russian glass. It all became clear. The absence of handle was a perfect design feature to insure the optimal tea temperature. If the glass was too hot to handle, it meant that tea was too hot to drink.

From time to time, all of us designers could learn a bit of simple oriental wisdom.