Design of ontwerp, de kunst van het koffie maken

Blog - 2 april 2020

Veel nuchtere Hollandse architecten hebben een hekel aan ‘design’. Terecht of onterecht? Wat bedoelen zij precies?

Zelf zijn diezelfde architecten dag in dag uit bezig te bedenken en in beeld te brengen hoe je gebouwen kunt maken die geschikt zijn om mensen en hun activiteiten te huisvesten, en die er ook nog mooi uitzien. En origineel. Dat heet ontwerpen. Dat is de Nederlandse vertaling van het Engelse woord ‘design’.

Wat is dan het probleem? Wat is het verschil tussen ontwerp en design? Nou, onder ‘design’ wordt verstaan: het ontwerpen om het ontwerpen. Dat beetje aanstellerige ontwerpen voor het ego van de designer, het dweepzieke stylen. Iets anders maken met geen ander doel dan dat het dan anders is dan het gewone. Design, uitgesproken Diezajn.

Goed ontworpen koffiemaker
Ik zal proberen het uit te leggen aan de hand van een voorbeeld. We zijn de laatste tijd veel thuis en drinken dus ook onze koffie thuis. Behalve het drinken kan ook het bereiden van koffie een genoegen zijn. Een goed ontworpen koffiemaker helpt daarbij.

Jaren geleden was ik bij een Italiaanse vriend in huis, een architect. We zouden thuis koffiedrinken (toen in Italië enigszins uitzonderlijk) en verplaatsten ons naar de keuken. Daar stond een eenvoudig, zwartgeblakerd aluminium Bialetti Moka-Express-potje op het gasfornuis, maar ook een glanzend rvs Alessi exemplaar op de plank. Ontwerp van de architect Aldo Rossi, genaamd ‘La Conica’.

Terwijl de koffie stond te pruttelen in de Bialetti vroeg ik: waarom gebruik je de Alessi niet? Dat zal ik je uitleggen, was het antwoord. Zijn dreigende blik voorspelde niet veel goeds. “Het is een beetje gênant. Het was een huwelijkscadeau.” Hij pakte het potje van de plank en stak van wal.

Diezajn van de bovenste plank
“Ik zal het je laten zien. Om te beginnen de vorm: cilindrisch, het reservoir onderaan net zo smal als het potje zelf erboven, waardoor de gasvlam niet onder het reservoir blijft en dus niet efficiënt verhit. Bovendien wordt door de hitte van de gasvlam die dus langs het potje omhoog gaat het handvat verhit. Dat van hetzelfde rvs is als het potje zelf. Het wordt dus loeiheet. Als de koffie klaar is kun je het potje niet meer hanteren. Je pakt dus een pannenlap.

Doordat het zwaartepunt lager zit dan het handvat, dat eigenlijk te kort is voor vier vingers, heeft het potje de neiging te kantelen als je het optilt. Daardoor mors je bij het inschenken. Bovendien brand je ondanks de pannenlap alsnog je vingers, niet aan het handvat maar tegen het potje. Het deksel zit in de bovenzijde van het potje geklemd, als je het eraf wilt halen om het potje om te spoelen, heb je beide handen nodig, en brand je je vingers nog een keer (in het deksel zat daarom al een deuk, want het was gevallen).

Het waterreservoir van zo’n koffiepotje moet altijd goed gesloten zijn, wat als er stoom kan ontsnappen tussen het waterreservoir en het koffiefilter wordt er geen druk opgebouwd en komt er geen koffie in het potje. Dat afsluiten gaat met een schroefdraad die dus strak moet worden aangedraaid.

Als je snel een tweede keer koffie wil zetten moet je het reservoir losdraaien om er water in te doen en verse koffie in het filter. Als het nog te heet is, is dat lastig. Dat is ook zo bij die goeie ouwe Bialetti maar die is tenminste nog hoekig waardoor je hem makkelijk stevig beet kunt houden. Vanwege de gladde ronde vorm is Aldo Rossi’s La Conica vrijwel niet open te draaien.”

De demonstratie was serieus en hilarisch tegelijk. Met bijbehorende Italiaanse gebaren en dramatiek. Rossi’s koffiepotje ziet er apart, strak en toch vrolijk uit, met dat puntmutsje met een pompoen erop. Maar het kán niet bedacht zijn met de bedoeling dat je er ook prettig koffie mee maakt. Het is diezajn van de bovenste plank. Waarop het keurig werd teruggezet.

Verbeteren van de Bialetti
Een paar jaar voordat Rossi zijn design maakte, ontwierp ook Richard Sapper zo’n koffiezetter voor Alessi, de 9090. Zelfde principe: water wordt in een afgesloten reservoir aan de kook gebracht, waarna de stoom door een filter met gemalen koffie wordt geperst en via een pijpje in het potje daarboven condenseert.

Sapper, die veel samenwerkte met Marco Zanuso, kende de Italiaanse cultuur goed genoeg om zoiets tot een goed einde te brengen. De uitdaging: iets dat al jaren doet wat het doen moet, maar niet volmaakt is, proberen te verbeteren. Bij Sapper staat de bruikbaarheid van een product hoog in het vaandel. Rossi was niet zijn concurrent. Maar was de Bialetti te verbeteren?

Om te beginnen maakte Sapper zijn koffiemaker wel rond maar niet volledig cilindrisch. De brede voet maakt het geheel stabiel en zorgt ervoor dat de warmte van de gasvlam onder het reservoir blijft en dus geheel ten goede komt aan het verhitten van het water. De koffie is daardoor wonderlijk snel klaar. Het handvat is lang, van gietijzer (dat niet zo snel opwarmt), zodat je het potje goed kunt hanteren en de koffie probleemloos kunt inschenken. Het deksel zit aan het potje vast met een scharniertje, bediend door een subtiel hendeltje, makkelijk te bedienen met dezelfde hand waarmee je het potje vasthoudt. Het kan dus niet vallen.

Het meest opmerkelijke aan deze koffiemaker is de sluiting van het reservoir. Die strak aangedraaide schroefdraad die je niet meer los kunt krijgen als het potje heet is, daar heeft Sapper iets beters op bedacht, namelijk géén schroefdraad: het handvat van het potje klikt aan het reservoir vast, waardoor dat dichtgeklemd wordt in plaats van dichtgedraaid. Met een simpele beweging trek je het handvat aan de onderzijde los waardoor het waterreservoir geopend wordt. Dat is ontwerpen.

Kortom, een doordacht ontwerp met de bedoeling een al bekend systeem -de Moka-express- waar een paar onvolkomenheden aan zaten, te verbeteren. En er dan ook iets moois van te maken in een vorm die niemand eerder heeft gezien. Een beetje zoals architecten gebouwen ontwerpen. Dat het koffiepotje van Sapper er heel goed uitziet, is geen bijkomstigheid. En geen toeval. Wel design. En de koffie is prima.

Beeld: Richard Sapper / Alessi / Shutterstock
Met een onvergetelijke bijdrage van Livio DeCarlo!

TERUG

DELEN

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