bad design jasper morrison trivet

Recently, I came across a rave about Jasper Morrison’s mesh trivet on a design blog. My instant thought was: bad design (despite the fame of the designer). Set that trivet on softish-wood table and put a heavy enough pot on it and you stand a good chance of the steel denting or scratching the wood. UPDATE: We’ve been told that Morrison didn’t design the trivet. He sells it in his store (endorsing it).

It comes on the heals of my posting Tom Dixon’s handsome, stunningly impractical mortar and pestle on Facebook (below). As I considered publishing the trivet in our Annals of Bad Design, I thought: what is the positive in bad design?



Bad design makes several things happen:

First, I imagine using the tool or design, employing all the information I have in my experience banks. As a cook, I look at Tom Dixon’s slick turned Morwad marble with brass ball pestle and think:

a) how little room there is in it; you could only grind a tablespoon or two of spices or herbs before they would come sliding up over the top.

b) how difficult the brass pestle would be to hold and gain purchase, especially with a cook’s messy hands

c) the pestle is too smooth to grip whatever I’m grinding and push it against the marble so as to release the oils or emulsify a sauce; I’d be related to just pounding with it.

Then, it makes me think of what I know about mortars and pestles: that the texture of both mortar and pestle are important for the tasks of grinding AND mixing; that having a good hold on the pestle is important; that the size of the pestle relative to the bowl is critical; that a mortar needs to do more than just crack spices or pound herbs — I can do that right on the counter with a rock or doorknob — a good mortar will have many uses, including the making of pesto and aioli (at least 2 cups worth, please).

Finally, it challenges me to think of solutions and make design corrections in my head. I’d make Dixon’s bowl proportionally bigger, and then see how the brass pestle fit in my hand, and what leverage I got. I might give the pestle some texture, at last the bottom half, so that it could actually help to grind and mix my ingredients.

Bad design challenges my analytical brain.

As for Morrison’s trivet, I’m thinking it would make a rather chic soap dish.

Related posts: annals of bad design: uncomfortable bathtub surround
annals of bad design? seating facing away from the view
annals of bad design: mirrored credenza?
annals of bad design?: sculptural bathtub
annals of bad design: light in your eyes

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8 replies on “jasper morrison’s trivet: why bad design is useful

  1. I would be tempted to use the Morrison trivet on top of one of the Dixon chopping “boards.”

  2. I have a trivet like that–not a Morrison design, because I’ve had it for years, though it is exactly the same. I use it on a butcher block table and I’ve never had a problem.

  3. Butcher block is made of really hard woods and designed to not dent. I did a test on a slab of pine, and it scratched…don’t think I’d use it on old, valuable table that has a birch veneer.

  4. That trivet isn’t designed by jasper himself, it is however, a product selected for selling in his east london shop.

  5. Thanks for clarifying. I’ll correct the post. So why are his buyer’s choosing such a beautiful, bad design?

  6. that mortar and ‘pestle’ really is appalling design- nice ornament, but would be useless, beside all the ‘fails’ you list, there is the problem of taste taint from brass, polishing the damn thing, and the risk of dropping it on your foot when you handle it with wet hands…….

    I have a medium Mason and cash, it’s never made me think about it when it’s in use.

  7. Those “trivets” were originally used to adjust and fine tune the heat under pots and pans on wood burning stoves. Essentially you are just using it wrong, if you put it on your dinner table.

  8. A little late to the party but just wanted to say that this post was really fun – not about quibbling the fine points of a particular piece but because the of the very thoughtful ideas embedded in Sally’s commentary. Anything, perhaps especially those things poorly designed, can be very good food for thought. Thank you, Sally

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