Coffee cups made from a sand material inspired by dunes

Inspired by ever shifting dunes, The Foundry by Tinkah developed a mouldable material made with desert sand, which they used to produce coffee cups.

The Foundry is a creative space set up by design studio Tinkah in Dubai. Tinkah’s designers set out to use the most abundant and unused material available in the United Arabic Emirates, desert sand.

The material is called Ramel, after the Arabic term for sand. The composite material combines the visual, tactile and heat insulative properties of sand, with a the castability of slip ceramic. Creating the material wasn’t easy. Sand is composed of many ingredients, among them iron, calcium, silica, aluminium and magnesium, and each sample they took varied in composition.

With their newly designed material, The Foundry reimagined the traditional Bedouin coffee cup into a design that can be used for anything from espresso to Arabic coffee. In Bedouin coffee culture, a host may offer their guest coffee scooped from the bottom, which is easy to do thanks to the cups conical shape. When a guest has had enough, they wiggle the cup while holding the rim. The design took this tradition into account by leaving the rim untextured. Although absent from Bedouin cup design, the addition of a handle prevents the cup from falling over, as well as refer to contemporary coffee drinking convention.

“We believe our product is the physicalization of the regions story,” the designer say. “Historically, desert dwellers thrived in extreme conditions by utilizing the arid environment in innovative means. Ramel intends to celebrate the Middle-East’s most abundant element. Day in and day out we try our best to keep the sand out. However, we aim to bring it back into our living spaces. Encapsulated within the confines of our product, sand has been given a new role and function.”

Photos: The Foundry by Tinkah