Sometimes a tea set is just a tea set. But in the case of Sigmund’s Traveling T-Laboratory, it’s a blatantly phallic symbol.
Created by Finnish designer Iiro A Ahokas, the hand-blown, borosilicate glass tea set is an unexpected conceptual reinterpretation of a product which usually comes with a wholesome design. Comprised of an insulated cup, a honey dipper, a tea strainer, a sugar holder, and an airtight tea container and measurer made of cast stoneware gilded in gold leaf, the pieces all fit together compactly like Russian nesting dolls.
And there is a functional justification as to why they’re all shaped like test tubes: the cylinder is the most natural shape for hand-blown glass objects of different sizes. Though it might look weird and impractical, it actually makes more sense than the standard mug and saucer shape of a tea set. The airtight container, with its silicon lid, can be stowed in a bag easily for on-the-go drinking without spilling or breaking.
But the intentionally suggestive cylindrical set is named for the founder of psychoanalysis himself, Sigmund Freud, who liked to find erotic symbols in even the most seemingly humdrum of objects. And understanding why the designer chose to create a penis-shaped tea set could require years of psychoanalysis.
Sigmund’s Travelling T-Laboratory was created as a conceptual one-off, but Ahokas thinks it could easily be serially produced and is looking for a manufacturer. It was shown at Iceland’s annual DesignMarch festival this year.