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This adorable kids’ book is also a parable for designers

The Japanese design firm Nendo is back–this time with possibly the cutest picture book you’ve ever seen created by its founder, Oki Sato. Called Not Just a Cup, the book follows a lone coffee mug that realizes it’s missing its corresponding spoon. To solve the problem of stirring coffee when there’s no spoon to be found, the little cup morphs into different shapes.

To go with the book, Nendo created a series of cup prototypes. In one, the cup has transformed into a horseshoe-shaped receptacle, presumably so you can mix your coffee by tilting it back and forth, while another has a spoon built into the cup itself. Others are less practical but more playful. One idea has a tiny little drawer built into the bottom of the cup; one has a pyramidal bottom so the cup never sits straight up and down.

[Photo: Akihiro Yoshida]
The story is an analogy for the design process, composed of a series of problems and a series of prototypes aimed at solving them.”The plot of the book showcases the essence of design and emphasizes the notion that design is not only about creating beautiful shapes, but about recognizing the little inconveniences in our everyday lives, and finding new ways to solve them,” the studio writes on its website.

Through the story, Nendo demonstrates that a cup is never just a cup–within each object is its design process aiming to crack a problem, no matter how mundane.

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