During his final year of graduate school in 1999, Boje Estermann first conceived of his collapsible funnel for his thesis project on space-saving items for the home. Due in part to the high cost of manufacturing an injection-molded product, the concept was never realized—until 2003, when Estermann presented the prototype to Normann Copenhagen’s Poul Madsen (www.normann-copenhagen.com), who put it into production last year. “Instead of products that bog down the consumer,” Estermann says, “I have gone the other way: buy one of mine, and you can throw one or several of the old products out.” The success of his initial design for the funnel has motivated Estermann to devise more space-saving products, including a collapsible colander, available this month. Both the funnel and the colander will make their Stateside debuts at this year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair. Here Estermann discusses the finer points of his funnel.
The expandable sun shield from my old photo-reflex camera inspired this design. A funnel felt like the logical product for this sort of space-conserving technology.
The smallest folds are very thin, allowing people to customize the funnel by cutting it. If they need a bigger opening at the base—say for homemade jam or rice, as opposed to wine—they can create it themselves.
We had to make many different molds to get the funnel to work perfectly. The first models kept popping back to their expanded form. The rubber has a memory; when you push it down, it returns to its original position. It’s a question of degrees of thickness smaller than a millimeter.
The funnel can be used partially collapsed. Originally it was intended for use only in the kitchen, but there are other areas—on a camping trip, in your boat, or in your car—where it’s equally useful. When folded up, it is less than an inch thick.
The lip of the funnel exists for ergonomic purposes. I wanted to make its line as simple as possible while leaving something substantial enough to hold on to. It is important to me to use clean, discreet lines.
The material is an FDA-approved thermal plastic elastomer, which is basically a flexible rubber. It can withstand the heat of boiling water and is dishwasher safe.