This Industrial Coffee-Maker Puts Process Centre Stage

“Most people want to live individually, but what does it mean today?” This is the question asked by the Berlin-based designer David Jahnke at his German design house Smart Concrete. In the 21st Century, the times of design guilds are swiftly passing, and mass production is well into its stride; to what, then, do we now turn for unique and high-quality pieces for our home? For David, the answer lies in industrial materials, and for us, the epitome of his philosophy lies in his new filter-coffee design.

Or, better described, his new ‘contraption’: with a focus on process-aesthetics, this raw piece of machinery allows the user to observe, almost scientifically, the progress of their coffee from water to brew. Delighting in the slow-drip that becomes the centre-piece of the user’s coffee-making experience, Jahnke turns the slower pace of the process from a potential frustration into an aesthetic virtue. We caught up with him to get his take on industrial design and the swift pace of modern life.


The Plus: What got you into design? 
David Jahnke:
I really like handmade products because they are special, not mass-produced. I do not like the idea that my neighbor could have exact copies of all the things I like at home. At least a part of it should be unique. One solution for that problem is DIY, but this putative solution creates new problems: not everybody wants or can produce DIY products. That is why I design and produce them.


TP: What attracts you to working with more industrial-look materials?
We are living in a world of plastic: plastic bags, kitchen appliances, computers, automoted parts and even our food is boxed in plastic. Industrial-look materials, especially concrete, is mainly known as a building material, but it is also a fascinating and versatile crafting material. It is simple and robust. Products made of concrete have a special haptic and esthetic, and that is what attracts me.

TP: Do you like the elevation of habits to rituals that products like this allow?
That is an important point. Everybody is busy and you can buy a takeaway coffee everywhere, but I think sometimes you should slow down and take your time; then you can make a coffee with this coffee maker. There is no complicated technique, but you can really see how it works. I like the idea that people maybe have a ritual to make coffee slowly on Sunday morning.