Design Icon: Chemex Coffee Maker

designicon_chemex

Design: Chemex Coffee Maker

Designer: Peter J. Schlumbohm (1896-1962)

Year: 1941

Country of Origin: Germany (patent filed in USA)

Manufacturer: Chemex

Materials and Construction: Non-porous, borosilicate glass body with polished wood handle and leather tie. The hourglass shape allows for easy holding and a molded spout guides liquid outward. A small protrusion, oftentimes referred to as the coffee maker’s “belly button” sits below the handle, a subtle measuring mark indicating that half the volume has been reached.

Fun facts: The Chemex’s name and design is reminiscent of laboratory equipment—and this is no coincidence. Schlubohm was a doctor of Chemistry, quite familiar with laboratory accouterments. The Chemex coffee maker is a modified version of an Erlenmeyer flask. Because of the coffee maker’s simple beauty and electricity-free ease of use, it has become an enduring classic of modern design. It has been welcomed into the permanent collections of numerous art and design museums, including the Smithsonian, The Philadelphia Museum, and The Museum of Modern Art.

Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg.

  1. Morgan says:

    I love mine and I use it every morning! Makes the best coffee.

  2. Amy says:

    Only thing we use now. My poor Alessi mocha just sits there looking pretty.

  3. AuDallEars says:

    It also bears noting that these beautiful pieces of glassware are still made in western Massachusetts by a family-owned company!

  4. 1292 says:

    “Inspired by the simplicity of Chemex,” Bruer is a similar system with (in my opinion) a gorgeous minimalist design:

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bruer/cold-bruer-a-cold-brew-coffee-system

    I’m a backer and can’t wait for it to arrive.

  5. jennifer says:

    Cool design. Just wondering how it ompares to the French Press?

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