The Tetsu-Kyusu: Materials Analysis & Design Proposal

Student | Lisa Pesok
School of Continuing and Professional Studies

In exploring the materials used to create the traditional Japanese teapot, the Tetsu-Kyusu, I found that the core materials were cast-iron and stainless steel. In trying to better understand how these materials are created, used, and re-used, I found that the creation of the materials from raw elements to completion was an incredibly environmentally-taxing process. However once created, these materials are sturdy and can be recycled relatively easily. So the thought became: how might we maximize the use of already produced cast-iron and stainless steel in our lives?

The tetsu-kyusu has a rich history of being crafted in the Iwate prefecture of Japan dating back a few hundred years, and still today the pots are mostly crafted in the Iwate prefecture by artisans who continue to use traditional techniques. Interest and demand for these teapots increased in other parts of the world, including the West, some time in the late 1990s.
The biggest resource draining and pollution-producing step in the making of the cast-iron tea pot is the mining required to obtain the raw materials to make cast iron. However, once the cast iron product is formed, it is usually a very durable item that has a lifespan of generations, and is relatively easy to recycle at end of life. So, how might we reduce resource drain and pollution by re-using the existing cast iron products we have in circulation, while honoring their unique histories and emphasizing ritual around products?
Context about the Tetsu-Kyusu and it’s cultural history
An overview of the Tetsu-Kyusu background and materials composition
A materials analysis of the most prominent material in the pot: cast-iron
A design proposal for extending the life of cast-iron products
Visual designs of an online used cast-iron product marketplace