I want one!

Modern olla. Photo credit: http://joeyroth.com/planter

Good design excites me.  One of the best I’ve seen recently is in fact not new at all, but its simplicity explains its enduring popularity.  I’m speaking of the olla, which is Latin for a pot-bellied ceramic jar used for a variety of purposes, among them cooking stews/soups and food storage.  The olla has been in use since Roman times.  The application with which I am most enamored is its use in irrigation.  Taking advantage of the natural porosity in unglazed ceramics, people such as the Spanish buried ollas next to the roots of plants; an extended neck allowed the user to supply water to the olla, which released water to the plant roots as they take it up through capillary action.  This technique was taught to Americans by Spanish settlers in colonial times.

So simple, but so awesome at the same time.  Industrial designer Joey Roth, whom I recently discovered and who produces some of the coolest designs ever, has updated the olla for modern use.  His self-watering planter consists of a central cylinder that acts as a reservoir for water, surrounded by a ring that allows for 3 herbs or 6 succulents to be planted and sustained with very minimal care.

The clean, minimalistic aesthetic only adds to the appeal for me.

The planter’s naturally porous earthenware allows water in the central chamber to seep into the surrounding soil. The plant’s need for water regulates this capillary action. Credit: http://joeyroth.com/planter/

This planter is not even the first thing I want to buy from Joey.  His re-imagined teapot, the Sorapot, is an absolute thing of beauty.  Made simply of metal and glass, it provides a show while you brew your tea.  The entire process of tea-making, including the unfurling of the tea leaves and the diffusion of pigments from the tea leaves to the water, becomes visible inside the glass.  The typically mundane ritual is utterly elevated.  This is an heirloom piece for sure, but the coolest part is that Joey thought of an ending to his product as well: should you ever decide that the Sorapot is just not cool enough for you (in which case you might be crazy, especially considering the $250 price tag), simply take it apart and recycle the metal and glass parts separately (in sharp contrast to most household goods, which are composed of parts of disparate origins that are too integrated to be disassembled and disposed of properly).

I. Want. One. Photo Credit: http://joeyroth.com/sorapot/

I love it.  Making products to last forever if need be but still being mindful of its disposal, while bringing beauty, convenience, and simple luxury to the user’s life is, I think, the essence of good design and sustainability.