Interview with Tzu-Yuan Shen
A passion for tea runs in Tzu-Yuan Shen’s family – they own a tea plantation and his father before him was active in researching and developing utensils for tea preparation. As a designer, Tzu-Yuan Shen has walked in his father’s footsteps by designing and producing portable tea sets which are as practical as they are beautiful. The “Travel Buddy” which he designed made quite a splash with the judges of this year’s “red dot award: product design”. These international design experts voted the Travel Buddy one of the best products in the entire competition and awarded him a “red dot: best of the best”.
What inspired you to design such an extraordinary product?
Tzu-Yuan Shen: In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, people are often forced to pick from a variety of convenient sugary drinks at the store. At the same time, they are concerned about their health. In designing this product, I would like to help people make healthy choices; the Travel Buddy makes it possible to brew the beverage of your choice and to drink something that’s good for you too. I hope that by using the Travel Buddy, you can carry your health with you everywhere!
What role did ecological aspects play in the development of this product?
Tzu-Yuan Shen: We wanted to do our part to protect the environment and develop a product that was useful and wouldn’t add to the world’s environmental problems. The soft disposable plastic bottles that now fill our landfills and take possibly forever to decompose, impact the health of our Earth. Our product can be used day after day, and when it is finally disposed of can also be recycled. We want our product to help reduce the amount of recycled waste in our world.
What challenges did you have to overcome to realise this design?
Tzu-Yuan Shen: Safety was a big concern during the design process. One of the problems we encountered was that a lot of pressure was created when pouring hot water into the bottle, so when the bottle was opened water sprayed out and there was a possibility of getting burned by the hot water. We needed to figure out how to release this pressure. After many tests, the pressure was reduced and also the water leakage problem in the lid was resolved. Many countries have recognised the patent for this product.
How significant for you are traditions, such as the classic tea ceremony, in an era of globalisation?
Tzu-Yuan Shen: For me, while the tea ceremony can be enjoyed as an art, drinking tea can also be a healthy lifestyle choice. People need water and therefore tea, with its many health benefits, is a natural – and easy – choice.