Ramel Cups, Molding Desert Sand to Reimagine the Bedouin Coffee Cup

Kholoud Sharafi
Hamza Omari

The Foundry by Tinkah set out to develop a material that tames the characteristics of the desert into a moldable medium. The Foundry has designed and produced the humble coffee cup Using a new material, Ramel.

“Ramel” has the ability to shift shape into functional and aesthetic products that emerge from their environment rather than adopting their surrounding as a homage to a global culture.

Tinkah created a composite material that combines the visual, tactile and heat insulative properties of sand with the castability of slip ceramic.  The sand is molded into the ceramic surface by controlling mold moisture, casting time, glaze type and firing temperatures.

Trial and error drove all decisions. Iron, calcium, silica, aluminum and magnesium are just a few of the elements found in desert sand, each sample varied in composition. Tinkah were able to achieve promising results with the process of elimination and continued experimentation.

Tinkah moved along to design the first product that will bare their newly developed material with month’s worth of R&D. Coffee and coffee drinkware is a transglobal culture. Staying true to their ethos, the designers reimagined the traditional Bedouin coffee cup into one that feels right at home serving espresso in Milan or Arabic coffee in Cairo.

Beyond function, Bedouin Coffee culture was a strong driving force in guiding the cup’s form factor. Traditionally, a guest and host might perform subtle cues with the drinkware to nonverbally communicate.

To honor a guest, the host presents the cup scooped up from the bottom with their fingers, the conical shape of the cup allows that to be done with ease. Once the guest is done drinking, the guest lightly wiggles the cup while holding it from the rim to convey that they have had enough. Left untextured, the clear rim acts as a visual indication to this unique tradition. Although absent from bedouin cup design, the addition of a handle prevents the cup from falling over as well as a reaching hand to contemporary coffee drinking convention.

About The Foundery by Tinkah

The Foundry is an inventive creative space set up by Tinkah. With experimental exploration at its core, The Foundry allows Tinkah’s artists, designers, writers, creatives the dedicated environment to defy the monotony of commercial design.

Organically emerging from Dubai, our found creative practice draws inspiration from its immediate environment. For this particular design we looked at the most abundant and unused natural resource in the UAE, we set out with the aim to utilize sand into a reproducible product.

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