When visiting New York I brought back a ceramic paper cup from the MOMA store. The iconic “We Are Happy To Serve You” paper coffee cup was introduced in 1963, and more than 180 million are used in New York every year. The designer, and founder of the environmentally minded design group, Exceptionlab, worked with both the Sweetheart Cup Company, Inc. and Aid to Artisans to convert the design from disposable to permanent, from paper to ceramic.
Recently paper plates were given the ceramic treatment by virginia sin in her new new ‘paper plates’ ceramic collection. The collection is currently on show at design within reach’s ‘modern+design+function’ exhibition in New York. the collection was inspired by the lack of quality paper plates and aimed to address the issue of sustainability. she re-interpreted the design using actual paper plates to make the moulds and mixed shards into the clay. once fired the paper burns off and the plates become as light as the real thing. they are glazed on both sides making them microwave and dishwasher safe.
There is also the “I am not a paper cup” which makes me smile, and is made of ceramic and silicone by DCI
Everyone claims this is driven by environmental and sustainability concerns. The making of a disposable item permanent also makes us reconsider and indeed sometimes see the real beauty of that object, however there is also something knowing and exclusive about making a copy of a mass produced object and dare I say a little bit nouveau riche where does it stop being postmodern and witty and just become naff – silver chip fork anyone?