Final project for the Modern Architecture course taught by Dietrich Neumann at Brown University. The objective was to create an architectural model or a reproduction of a piece of furniture from the Modern Movement.
The recognize Bauhaus teapot was designed and created by Marianne Brandt, who was the first female student enrolled in the Bauhaus metal workshop and later became the workshop’s director. The original teapot was hand-forged in brass then silver-plated, with ebony handles on the side and the lid. I had wanted to challenge the practicality of its unconventional minimalist design, as well as the possibility of mass producing a carefully crafted object as such. While the teapot has gone through multiple iterations over the years to increase its functionality, my project focuses on the original MT 49 model first created by Brandt in 1924.
Unable to find a technical drawing of the teapot, I based my reproduction on the dimensions of an existing model in the British Museum collection. Given time constraints, I had integrated the strainer with the spout rather than having a separate strainer. I also chose copper over brass for its superior malleability that allowed for shorter fabrication time. The body was raised and other components, such as the foot and the spout, were soldered on. The copper teapot was then silverplated and completed with ebony handles attached by rivets.
Although the MT 49 teapot was designed as a prototype for mass production, the expensive materials - brass, silver plate, and ebony - made the teapot a luxury object rather than an affordable mass-produced tableware. In addition, producing the teapot’s complex design requires precise and meticulous handwork that is not possible in a low-cost factory setting. The practicality of its geometric design also comes into question. The ebony handle is tricky to hold, especially when the teapot is filled with hot water; the handle design seems to be driven by aesthetic over functionality. The MT 49 teapot was a beautifully crafted object that embodied the Bauhaus aesthetic, but because of the costly production and impractical handle design, it does not fit into the Bauhaus’ mission to create well-designed objects that would be accessible by the mass.