Black+Blum don’t do ranges. Designers Dan Black and Martin Blum were very clear about that point two years ago. But an award-winning range of lunch boxes later, the Anglo-Swiss pair have modified their outlook slightly.
Black+Blum first gave us Box Appetit, the lunchbox for grown-ups. It featured an intricately molded Eastman Tritan™ copolyester lid that’s scratch-resistant, BPA-free, and safe for microwave and dishwasher. Box Appetit was so successful that Black+Blum followed up with a Bento Box designed along similar lines and the Lunch Pot, a pail-shaped variation better suited to soups, stews and noodle dishes.
Eau Good Bottle
Success tends to breed success, and with their lunch boxes flying off shelves around the world, Black+Blum decided to stick with Tritan™ for their latest project: a water bottle that makes accessible to a Western audience the Japanese fondness for filtering water using active charcoal. They call it Eau Good.
“Most water filters use active charcoal to remove the metallic tang from tap water but those filtration cartridges tend to be quite expensive,” says Martin. “We thought why not use the original, very simple, active carbon sticks like the Japanese do? We felt it would be nice to bring this simple solution from Japan to the Western world – and hopefully get people to move away from the most costly water filters or bottled water.”
Unlike active carbon cartridges, the active charcoal stick – called a Binchōtan, and prepared using a special high-temperature steaming process – is simply dropped into a water bottle. It naturally filters unwanted tastes out of the water.
Black+Blum took the idea and gave it their usual unconventional nudge, creating an oddly shaped bottle in which the Binchōtan locks into a notch rather than floating free. It’s easier to drink from but difficult to form – and so Black+Blum had no hesitation in once again selecting Tritan™.
“Tritan™ allows us to create a form that relates to glass and that complements our genuine cork stopper and stainless-steel clasp,” explains Martin. “The rim has a much thicker gauge than a conventional plastic bottle with a very soft, round radius at the top – very much as you would expect with a glass bottle. We still have a lightweight body, albeit thicker than a normal plastic bottle but thin enough to squeeze to allow the charcoal to lock in place.
"It looks simple enough but actually the shape created headaches for the molder. It involved a great deal of trial and error on their part but the end result was what we wanted. Using Tritan™ gives us that glass-like appeal, and creates a value that people will want to hold on to.”
At Home With the Range
Tritan™ is the material that Black+Blum is using to differentiate its designs and, yes, it has inspired the duo to create products that resemble a range.
“What we meant when we said we don’t do ranges is that we don’t like simply expanding and diluting an idea,” says Martin. “Every product should stand up for itself and not be just a relation of the good idea we once had: it needs to be a good idea all of its own – but maybe it’s OK to have these as different ideas under the same umbrella.”
That umbrella covers a multitude of sensations. The ceramic-style polypropylene bodies are all complemented by Tritan™ lids, providing not only a glass-like visual appeal but also a warmth to the touch and a reassuringly firm snap when locked into place. It’s why Black+Blum did not consider any other material when designing Lunch Pot.
“We’re trying to get a look that harks back to traditional formats of the stackable lunch container,” explains Martin. “We wanted a look that relates to ceramic and glass – and once again that’s where Tritan™ comes in.
“Like the lids on Box Appetit and the Bento Box, we wanted something that looks like glass rather than plastic. The radii and the detailing are much like what you would get with glass – it’s only when you lift it you realize it’s lighter than glass could possibly be. It feels good and it has a nice, reassuring snap to it when you seal the lid. It’s high quality.”
It’s also high style – the signature of the Black+Blum designs featuring Tritan™.