In the Studio with Diane

This week we’re excited to share a coffee chat with Diane Espiritu, an industrial designer based in Vancouver. We love her sketches for a custom ceramic pour-over she’s creating for our Kickstarter backers and wanted to hear more about her inspiration behind the design. Diane opened Espiritu Design Studio in the Chinatown district of Vancouver back in 2011 and specializes in ceramics and soft product design. Her projects range from porcelain dinnerware, to medical assistive devices, to playful lamps on a pulley. She recently shared with us her overall design philosophy, life in the studio, and, of course, her thoughts on coffee.


 Diane Espiritu of Espiritu Design Studio

Diane Espiritu of Espiritu Design Studio

How would you describe your design aesthetic and philosophy?

During my childhood, I loved solving puzzles. I would make and re-purpose materials alongside my father as he constructed his woodworking projects. For me, creating is very much about observing and being aware of my surroundings. I find myself thinking of ways I could make the quality of life better by improving the objects we use daily.

As a designer, I am eager to create functional objects that resonate with their intended audience. I use the creative process as an opportunity to reflect on previous challenges and imagine new ways to explore and interpret forms. As I approach a resolution, I delight in the refinement process.

What happens on a typical day at the studio?

Each workday begins with slip casting multiple molds. While molds are drying, I may be sanding pieces, loading a kiln for a bisque, or glazing forms for firing. Filling a kiln is like playing Tetris and Jenga at the same time. It’s an ocean of fun fitting forms as efficiently as possible, and I am rewarded for the care and patience I give each piece. On any given day I may be sketching a design, scaling dimensions, testing a prototype, or sculpting a master form to make a mold.

 Diane works on the master form for Kalsada’s custom pour-over

Diane works on the master form for Kalsada’s custom pour-over

What inspired the coffee pour-over you created for Kalsada?

Carmel’s visit to my studio was the impetus for the pour-over. When she spoke about her social enterprise with such sincere conviction and knowledge, it struck a chord with my desire to connect with my heritage and make a positive contribution through my design practice. Carmel describes it as serendipitous. However, as I have found in the studio, we create happenstance by working our tails off for we what are truly passionate about.

The design of the coffee pour-over embodies the hourglass, which illustrates the time it takes for Philippine farmers to grow and harvest their beans, the time it takes to master the roasting process, and the time it takes to prepare the coffee for brewing. It also gives a nod to the iconic emblem of the Philippine Sun, which symbolizes unity, freedom, people’s democracy, and sovereignty

Tell us about a design project you’re excited about or most proud of.

I am quite excited and proud to share one of my recent collaborations with designer Jeff Liu for the Vancouver Design Bureau. We designed a pendant light that we affectionately call Polly. Polly is a playful lamp that employs a pulley, allowing the user to set the height of the pendant for any occasion or task.  We hand make each lamp with select hardwoods, stained porcelain bodies, and brass hardware details. We were floored to learn that we were recently featured on Design Milk.

How do you take your coffee?

My coffee ritual starts with procuring and grinding my beans for the week. I love trying beans from different local roasters. I take my coffee black and prepare an Americano with my home espresso machine after tending to my daughter’s breakfast. This morning ritual is sometimes punctuated with coffee shop dates where friends and a sweet pastry elevate the experience!

Where’s your favorite place to enjoy a cup of coffee?

There are so many great coffee shops popping up around Vancouver that it’s painfully difficult to select a favorite, so I invite you to come visit us and we’ll try a few places together!