Portland, Oregon is a liquid city. Some of the world’s best craft beverages—coffee, beer, wine and spirits—are being made and served here, and are central to what we love about our home. But there was something missing. We wanted vessels worthy of our favorite drinks; vessels designed and created with the same passion and attention to detail as the liquids that go into them. We wanted something that would bring out the best in the amazing beverages we love. So we decided to focus our energy on making a ceramic collection specifically to enhance the things we love to drink. Designed to bring out the best of their contents, Mazama drinking vessels are made with intent and a clear goal: elevate what’s in them.
We’re a group of designers with a knack for getting our hands dirty, making things that get used, and bringing tangible products to life and to market. Hammers and drills are as familiar to us as Photoshop and Illustrator, and we’ve all done enough work for other people to know what it takes to make things work on our own. Between us, we can draw, sew, paint, illustrate, create patterns, cut material, design vessels, throw shapes on the wheel and flat-out kick ass at making things in real life that will perform as well as they will age. We have over 80 combined years of real world experience as designer and domestic manufacturers designing, producing and selling hand crafted products made right here in the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps most importantly, we love to drink! We are serious about our beverages, their origins, preparations and ultimately their consumption.
Every good design project involves tons of research. Lucky for us, that means extensive sampling of the things our vessels will hold (so basically, lots of drinking of all types). We’ve spent months sketching ideas, sampling clay types, testing silhouettes, developing and refining custom glazes, and making sure our production studio was wired the right way. There’s a staggering amount of development that goes into making something as seemingly simple as a ceramic vessel. From the technical aspects of designing and refining a shape, to the hand work it takes to translate drawings and ideas into 3D, to addressing ideal volume for specific beverages, there’s a lot to take into account. And we do. Then we tinker with it some more, spend another giant batch of hours finalizing glaze colors and execution (making sure nesting sets actually nest, for example) before we consider a design final. What you see here is the result of all that. Thirsty yet?
One of the most exciting elements of our project is that once we’re up and running, we’ll be creating real jobs for young creative professionals, artists and aspiring craft artisans. Portland is home to three prestigious art and design schools, which generate hundreds of job-seeking graduates each year. The addition of a full-fledged ceramic production studio will be a strong resource for the Portland creative economy, offering both full and part time employment as well as internship and mentoring opportunities.
We’ve done a lot to get this far, putting in the long hours and late nights that are expected of anyone who really believes in their project. Now, we’re asking for help to take us over the finish line. Our Kickstarter funds will allow us to buy the raw materials (primarily clay and glaze ingredients) for our first big production run, and hire qualified craftspeople for our studio. With your help, we can get up and running with product creation, firing, glazing, quality control, shipping and all the other elements that go into transforming something from idea into reality.
Risks and challenges
Like any exciting new idea on Kickstarter, we face some common risks associated with bringing a great new product to production. While we’re confident that we’ve set ourselves up to succeed, here’s a quick look at some of them.
Unlike projects that can run into problems launching before they've figured out their production plan or even fully built and tested their products, the Mazama team has already designed, prototyped and built a diverse mix of products before. From high-tech athletic apparel and footwear (Nike, adidas) to artisan leather goods (Tanner Goods) we've managed big-dollar development budgets and we've built lasting companies starting with our credit cards. It's always hard to bring an idea to life, but we’ve done it before and we’re excited to do it again.
We’ve spent the last 18 months developing our idea, securing a space, building and outfitting a studio, and have recently finalized the product development. We've personally invested heavily in order to solidify the concept. We’re now ready to begin full-scale production and make our ceramic vessels available to the public.
Our biggest challenge lies in scaling production to meet demand. We've planned and prepared the best we can, but there some factors that may be out of our control. The biggest two would be be if clay and glaze material becomes backordered or is unavailable, and if we have difficulty finding enough highly skilled ceramists to meet our production needs. We’re prepared to work through these should they arise, but we wanted to mention them just the same.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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