Having an obsessive, deeply-rooted, and somewhat inexplicable passion for everyday objects is practically a required character trait in every Industrial Designer. For that reason, the task of renovating, reinventing, refining, and reforming the most common objects is one of the greatest and most enjoyable challenges for aesthetics visionaries. For millennia, domestic housewares, like furniture, have been a staple for designers to prove themselves by getting people to think about space and arrangement differently, and to appreciate the everyday objects that surround us. The Li-Wai Cup/Vase Series is the quintessence of these notions, and to see something of such contemporary style injected with traditional Chinese roots is simply stellar!


The Li-Wai Cup/Vase Series is the product of Studio KDSZ, a Beijing-based design collective on a mission to birth modernist products that are infused with simple and elegant forms referencing diverse cultural influences. The inner-forms of the vessels in this series represent the shapes of traditional Chinese containers, while the external forms are distinctly contemporary in a very Western sense. The objects are a marriage between old and new, and one in which both aspects can be appreciated as distinct entities, or as a cohesive union. What’s more, is that the combined forms allow the objects themselves take-on a new meaning, and inspire us in ways that neither the traditional nor the modernist aesthetic could alone. The design offers us the opportunity to examine the common container differently, while still allowing it to retain the same intuitive use.




Studio KDSZ is still relatively new (about three years old), but undoubtedly, its potential for growth is evident. Chi Hsiao-En, the studio’s founder, studied Mechanical Engineering and Architecture before pursuing Design, and one could argue that his background influence is apparent in products like the Li-Wai vessels, which are made from borosilicate glass (lab-grade) and use function as their form. As China continues to mesh with Western culture in our modern world, it is exciting to see the new ways in which innovators choose to blend tradition with progressive design ideals. The Li-Wai Cup/Vase series lacks ornamentation, and yet it is still faithful to Chinese design, which for thousands of years, has been almost exclusively defined by decorative painting and architectural embellishment.






The Li-Wai Cup/Vase Series is available on Etsy. Prices of individual pieces vary, but are currently set between $9.00 and $36.00 USD, depending upon size and complexity–very reasonable for borosilicate glassware! All of the pieces in the series are mouth-blown by professional artisans.

(Images via Studio KDSZ)