The Educated Eye: Bodum Pavina

My Drink is So Cool

Dutch Small
November 28, 2012

In 2003, I saw a story about the Bodum Pavina thermal drinking glasses, and I fell to my knees and cried with joy. Finally, someone had solved two of what I consider the biggest problems with drinking glasses: condensation and heat.

The Bodum glasses encompass everything that should be considered in a well-designed item. The beautiful curvilinear form is further accentuated by a clever double wall, which creates the illusion that the liquid is suspended in the glass and also protects one’s delicate little hands and fingers from heat and moisture. Each one is mouth-blown, so the level of craft involved in the production is very high. There is something lovely about someone who has spent years learning and honing their craft; it takes a great deal of skill to mouth-blow glass with this high degree of intricacy. This process means that rather than perfect, consistent pieces, each one will exhibit the slightest bit of evidence of handcraft, such as a wee bit of waviness in the rim. The material of the glass has been duly considered: Borosilicate, a lighter, scratch-resistant, durable type of glass that handles changes in temperature better than other types.

What I find beautiful about the design is that it isn’t garish, and it doesn’t demand attention. The soft and elegant interior form is repeated on the outside. It’s always more difficult to make something pretty and simple — and they did it. Even though it’s just a little drinking glass, it’s gorgeous. And, starting at $15 a glass, it’s affordable. It’s easy to spend hundreds of dollars on artistic, mouth-blown, well-considered glassware, but Bodum has managed to pull together all of these attributes in an affordable product with the same level of artisanal merit.

This one object exhibits everything that is important in design. It has beautiful form, integrity in craft and function — and it solves a problem elegantly. If you can solve all of those things, you’ve got good design.