Design Icon

Design Icon: Chemex Coffee Maker

by Maxwell Tielman


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.

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