STUDENT STIRS UP EXCITEMENT WITH A SPOON DESIGNED TO HEAT BEVERAGES
For University of Cincinnati industrial design senior Geoff Baldwin, the sweet smell of success comes with the aroma of hot coffee and tea.
Baldwin designed his flat spoon as a product that coffee and tea drinkers could use to reheat their beverages once those drinks have gone cold. And his hot design idea has just won him a top prize in an annual student design competition sponsored by the International Housewares Association (IHA). He’s not only won $1,700 in prize money but also a trip to Chicago during IHA’s international show there from March 12-14. Baldwin’s work will be on exhibit during the home and housewear exposition.
“The irony,” stated Baldwin, “Is that I don’t drink either tea or coffee.”
The seed of his design idea came to him while he was on co-op with Red Studio in New York City. (Co-op stands for cooperative education, and it’s the practice wherein students alternate quarters spent in the classroom with quarters of paid, professional work directly related to their major. UC is the global birthplace of co-op, having founded the practice in 1906.)
"Just from that, I began to think of hot beverages too, and I knew this competition was coming up. So after work, I’d research and doodle on ideas for hot drinks. I thought of things like a ‘hot cube’ as the opposite of an ice cube. Then, I thought of a throw-away stir stick that would contain a dose of water and calcium oxide to re-heat a beverage. Finally, I landed on the spoon idea.”
Baldwin admitted that, as it stands now, the spoon idea could go several different ways. The idea he finally submitted to IHA is a spoon that functions something like a tie-clip. Once users activate the mixing of water and calcium oxide within the spoon by pressing the handle end of the spoon, they then clip the spoon to the cup. “That way, the spoon doesn’t get in the way while you’re drinking. And it doesn’t fall out or slip sideways in the cup,” he explained.
As envisioned by Baldwin, each disposable spoon would generate between 90 to 100 degrees of heat, enough to heat an average cup of coffee or tea for several minutes.
Best of all, he said, was how his co-op colleagues would encourage him. “They knew I was working on the project after hours, and they’d say, ‘Hurry up and finish it. I need a product like that,’” recollected Baldwin.
But in the end, he just decided to mail it on Dec. 27. And that’s one reason Baldwin was so surprised to receive the call from an IHA representative that he’d won. “All I managed to say at first was: ‘I can’t believe it made it on time.’”
For more UC news, go to www.uc.edu/news/