Celebrate Ubiquitous and Unsung Designs with this Iconic Sugar Shaker

iconic sugar shaker
Image by: KAREN TAPIA-ANDERSEN / Los Angeles Times
With, over 35 Million sold with just as many copies I’m sure, this Sugar Shaker is, according to Bill Stern an Art Historian, “the very essence of modernism, a perfect meld of function and form.”

Stern, the guiding force behind the development of the Museum of California Design, extols the comfortable swell of the shaker’s glass belly, which is shaped to be cradled in the palm. And the clean gleam of its smooth, slightly canted metal top, which cues a user’s eye to tilt in the right direction. And the placement of the pouring flap, ingeniously engineered “so that when you tip the shaker,” Stern says, “the whole weight of the contents is concentrated at the precise point where it has to come out.”
Previous models were inferior, he says. They didn’t pour easily, and they collected dirt. But this design? “There’s not a whit of unnecessary decoration,” he says. “It’s made inexpensively but responsibly, so it won’t prematurely break or wear out. Viewed at a distance, it is an extremely elegant object.”
And those are just some of the reasons it’s still around.

Designed by Henry Keck this product was a result of very in depth product ergonomic studies, market audits and environmental of use research. The most important part of the brief was that it had to be easy to keep clean of which they found:

“We looked at what was around; most were ugly and had design flaws. They had thin metal tops with up-curled edges, where sugar and dirt would accumulate. The threads where you screwed on the top were exposed — another grime collecting spot. The metal pouring flaps were thin and poorly positioned; steam from the coffee caused sugar to clump at the spout.
The glass bodies had vertical ridges and bases that protruded, which increased cleaning time.”

With this in mind they designed a shaker that had a smooth body and a heavy top that hid the screw threads and was able to knock the sugar back into the container. Extremely clever. Overall this is a fantastic and inspirational read on how, designers can gain a unique perspective and insight from studying consumer needs, and translate them into a fantastic product that has seen the test of time by being around for more than 50 years. Something to consider and think about if you happen to be stuck in a world of fast pace quick and dirty design work.
Via: The Press Democrat

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