Teatime

Dries Verbruggen has long been fascinated with an object that doesn’t actually exist: the Utah teapot. Designed in 1975 by Martin Newell, a computer scientist at the University of Utah, the digital vessel was the first complex 3-D computer model. It has since become a standard computer-graphic reference, and animators often use it as an inside joke. (It popped up in Pixar’s Toy Story and an episode of The Simpsons, and it even made its way into an animated video by the Norwegian synth-poppers Röyksopp.) “It’s kind of like the rock star of the 3-D world,” says the Antwerp-based designer.

But only now is the teapot available for your own table. Verbruggen and his design partner, Claire Warnier, have turned the computer model into a limited-edition ceramic version called the Utanalog (a combination of Utah and analog), which debuted last November in New York at Material ConneXion’s Bits ’n Pieces exhibition. “We had to adjust some things because the original had no bottom, and we had to add a rim to the lid—small details like that so that it would actually function as a teapot,” Verbruggen says. “Otherwise, the form is an exact copy.”

Web extra: Video clips of the Utah teapot in popular culture

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