Sowden Oskar SoftBrew
Sowden Oskar SoftBrew™ Tea Service collection improves this beautifully simple functionality by introducing a discrete piece of advanced micro-engineering in the heart of the pot: a supersized etched stainless steel filter whose generous dimensions allow tea leaves the same freedom as that of filter-less pots as well as being easily removable and cleanable, eliminating the waste of tea bags and greatly simplifying the ritual of preparing perfect loose leaf tea.
For over 800 years the finest teapots in the world have continued to be made without provisions for filters of any kind, be they small nets, clasps or, god-forbid, tea bags. The reason being that tea’s leaves and tips must have room to expand and unfurl in order to properly release the full range of their flavours.
The pots themselves are made in Chaozhou, the imperial ceramic capital of China, using the highest grade local stoneware and porcelain and all our pots pass all the highest consumer safety tests.
The design intelligence of these simple forms, fruit of Sowden’s 40 years of pioneering work in the design field, combined with excellent craftsmanship and materials result in a teapot which gently commands the respect of the room.
In 2011, fed up with an unspontaneous design process governed by marketing strategy and no longer resembling the close collaboration between designers and manufacturers or artisans that characterized the hey day of Italian design, legendary Milanese designer George Sowden decided very simply, to get on with it and to do so on his own terms, putting his name to a range of products for the first time in his 40 year career.
Liberated from these corporate structures and able to bring his broad range of experience to the extremely collaborative and high-energy manufacturing environment of China today, George Sowden was able to work quickly and daringly, to experiment with techniques usually out of bounds in homeware (such as stainless steel micro-engineering), to insist on the use of quality materials (beautiful Imperial Chinese porcelain of Chaozhou) and to develop more fully than ever before his personal vision of design.
The resulting products clearly bear the stamp of a mature designer with an extraordinary body of work behind him, working confidently without concessions or compromise. Look closely at Sowden’s products, his high-tech but primitive SoftBrew™ coffee maker or teapot invented to bring you into the most direct contact possible with the flavours and aromas of freshly roasted coffee and loose leaf tea, or his traditional weight pure porcelain plates and bowls, use them every day and, beyond the immediate value of their easy and intuitive functionality and high quality, you will begin to see the sober poetry of their forms; the visual communication of values which feel highly relevant in an age of extreme globalization.
Sophisticated and daring simplicity is the rare type of design intelligence found in the work of George Sowden. Born and raised in Leeds in the immediate post-war years, Sowden went on to study architecture at Gloucestershire College of Art in Cheltenham in the 1960s. Determined to be a designer, and on the invitation of early mentor Ettore Sottsass, Sowden set off for Milan, Mecca of contemporary design, in the early 1970s.
His first important work was done at the renowned Olivetti where he participated in the design of early computer products, implementing many ergonomic innovations which are still today considered industry standards. This experience taught him the complexities involved I handling industrial processes and how exactly design fitted into it all. Milan has continued to be his and inspiration ever since.
In the 1980s he came to the attention of the wider world of design as a co-founder of the legendary Memphis group. Following those heady years of intense and radical experimentation Sowden continued his work with some of the world’s leading homeware and design companies including Alessi, Bodum, Pyrex, Tefal, Moulinex and Guzzini as well as winning the Compasso d’Oro in 2001.
Many of the ‘tools’ he has designed over the last two decades, such as his series of chairs for Segis, have quietly become firm icons of new design.
2011 saw the 30th anniversary of Sowden Design, the studio he set up in 1981 as well as the inauguration of Sowden, the first line to directly carry the designer’s name and the most comprehensive expression yet of his personal vision of design.