Interview with designer Maia Ming Fong (MF), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Eva Tea Set Teapot and Teacups.

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Interview with Maia Ming Fong at Thursday 19th of December 2013: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
MF : The EVA tea set was named after a design hero of mine, Eva Zeisel, who made some sensual and timeless ceramics, including tea services, in her day.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
MF : I wanted to create an elegant and tactile, functional product with a timeless and classic quality.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
MF : I would like to establish the EVA as a modern design classic and sell a lot of them! At some point I would like to offer another size and add a sugar bowl and milk pitcher to the family.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
MF : The entire development and production cycle for the EVA occurred in 2013.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
MF : My first tea set for Maia Ming Designs was the BULB, made in stoneware, which has a traditionally Asian style side handle on the tea pot and no handles on the cups. I wanted my next tea set to be made in porcelain and to have a more traditional Western style handle on the tea pot and cups without sacrificing the tactile experience in use.

DI: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
MF : Currently the EVA is being produced by a local porcelain manufacturer in Catalunya for Maia Ming Designs. My plan is to continue with this, though I will, of course, adapt as necessary and am open to considering the possibility of leasing production rights.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
MF : There are not so many tea pots where the spout integrates and flows naturally from the body of the pot. I felt this shape offered many advantages I was looking for both in aesthetics and functionality.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
MF : I studied many tea pots made by designers including Eva Zeisel, Linda Bloomfield, Corrie Bain and others. I also looked at many Yixing clay tea pots and considered manufacturing the black matte in Yixing, China. Lastly, I am a big fan of Jonathan Adler's whimsical ceramics.

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
MF : Tea lovers, design lovers, among whom I include myself. People looking for a beautiful and functional, quality tea set.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
MF : First of all, I have not seen a tea set like the EVA manufactured in porcelain, most of the similar concepts have been hand made and in other clays. Secondly, the relationship of the curves and sensory touch between the tea pot and cups is very strong.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
MF : The EVA is my personal tribute to the late ceramics designer Eva Ziesel. I like to think it is a tea set she would have appreciated and taken pleasure in using. "My designs are meant to attract the hand as well as the eye." - Eva Zeisel

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
MF : The early prototypes were made by modifying wheel thrown forms. The production drawings were created using Adobe Illustrator.

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
MF : The continuous curve integrating from the body through the spout of the teapot, which lends to a better pour. The finishing details of the silver plated ring on the glossy white tea pot; and the black matte/glossy white details of the body/lid and cups/rim. Finally, the relationship of curves between the tea pot and cups is very strong and the tactile nature of the EVA enhances the sensory experience of drinking tea.

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
MF : My model maker, Claudi de José, was a key collaborator in the development of the EVA. His 30+ years experience in the ceramics industry and his talent in executing the models and molds was fundamental to the successful outcome of this product. The manufacturer also is taking particular effort with the hand finishing idiosyncrasies and details of the EVA.

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
MF : I briefly considered developing the EVA with Rhinoceros 3D modeling and printing out prototypes in ceramic. But I think the traditional model making approach served this product better to evaluate and modify the tactile and technical details.

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
MF : I mainly researched other tea sets in determining a sale price for the EVA. It is not easy to produce in small series as a start up company, but I wanted the EVA to be a design piece available at an accessible price.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
MF : Porcelain is difficult to work with and has propensities to deform much more than other clays. Our biggest challenge was making the stainless steel filter insert work at an angle and fit perfectly with the lid. The black matte glaze is also very challenging on porcelain, much more so than glossy white.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
MF : The EVA merits special attention and promotion which an international design award can offer.

DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
MF : I had an immense learning curve in porcelain manufacturing during the development of the EVA. The EVA is much more complicated than the other porcelain designs I have realized to date.

DI: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
MF : A few quotes from Eva Zeisel that I like... "Beautiful things make people happy." "My designs are meant to attract the hand as well as the eye." "When I design something, I think of it as a gift to somebody else."