Rama Chorpash has designed Swatch watches, furniture, and more clever kitchen utensils than you can shake a pair of grater tongs at. When he’s not creating cool stuff with the likes of Herman Miller and the Public Art Fund, he’s an associate professor and the director of product design at Parsons The New School for Design in New York. Recently, his Spiraloop potato masher made the cut for the MoMA Design Store’s “Destination: NYC” selection of designed-in-NYC, made-in-the-USA products.
“In 1936 MoMA’s exhibition ‘Machine Art’ featured just that: carriage springs, boat propellers, and so forth,” says Chorpash. “For the Destination: NYC open call, I wanted to redraw public attention towards reconnecting people’s consciousness to where things come from, and how they express their industrialization.” Having recently returned from a residency at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts (as cool as it sounds), he made time to tell us about his smashing masher, what’s next on his summer to-do list, and a memorable encounter with a Brazilian taxi driver.
What is the “Spiraloop”?
Spiraloop is a vegetable/potato masher. With so much pre-made food in New York City, I wanted to create a product (humble as it may be) that would encourage people to cook in their own kitchens.
Made of super quality 316 stainless steel, it features ergonomic spring tensile “spring-back” characteristics typically found with utensils made from multiple materials such as rigid plastics combined with soft silicon. Unlike Spiraloop, such co-injection molded materials are typically “monstrous hybrids” and cannot be separated and reclaimed. While Spiraloop will last a long time, it is also 100% recyclable.
What was it like working with manufacturer Lee Spring, founded in 1918?
They do great work, and it was a pleasure to work with them. While they are a successful global company with production and distribution across the United States as well as in Mexico, the United Kingdom, and China, my interest was in working with them locally, to shorten the supply-chain between design, production, and consumption. Spiraloop was designed in New York City, made in New York City, to be sold in New York City. I call this localized making “Manufacturing in Place.” Think of a farmers’ market, the locally produced produce (goods) are shipped the shortest distance and rely upon regional needs and constraints.
The walk down the hill from my home in St. George to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal looks across the bay to the BKLYN Army Terminal. In researching who would produce the Spiraloop, Lee’s locality was ideal. A short drive over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and I was at their headquarters. First founded in Brooklyn nearly a century ago, they really enjoyed to flex their manufacturing muscle locally.