An analog tea timer made using mountain crafts to generate employment generation activities for the rural artisans of Sikkim


Studio : Echostream
Role : Researcher, Product Designer
Timeline : 6 months | 2016


Can a lifestyle product create social impact?

11 out of 29 states in India are ‘mountain states’, yet the policies and development programs for these states are neither mountain nor state specific. For a number of geographical, historical, political and socio-economic reasons, what works in India’s non-mountainous states might not in its mountainous ones.

Trickle, my Graduation Project, is the final culmination of six months of research and analysis of the mountain crafts of Sikkim, a tiny mountain state in North-East India. It forms the first range of products for 'La', a mountain product brand which aims to establish a Creative Mountain Economy in the pan Himalayan region, representing innovation, design and the aspirations of the people from the region. 



Trickle is an analog tea timer. It makes you a perfect cup of tea with its precise design. It lets you savour the flavour and the passage of time. Each piece is made of locally sourced naturally treated ‘dhar’ wood. It is then turned on the water lathe machines by Chundharey artisans. Handcrafted to precise calibration, it demonstrates fine craftsmanship from the mountains. Each teacup made of stoneware is gently shaped on the potters’ wheel in Khitam, South Sikkim with love & care. Wrap your hand around the cup, allow the warmth of tea to gently flow into your hands, take a sip & enjoy the tea.

"The mark of a good cup of tea is in its color. The correct hue is indicative of a well-timed brew, achieved by steeping the water and tea leaves for a precise amount of time. 

Based on the type of tea leaves used, Trickle can be set to calibrate your brew by the minute, allowing fresh, precisely brewed tea to drip into your cup. The base of the Trickle has three different sized holes. The larger the hole, the faster the steeping time. When you place the tea leaf-separator plate in, it blocks any two given holes, allowing the third free hole to be used for the dripping process. The rim is marked to indicate small, medium, large time slots. Place the leaves in one compartment, pour hot water into the other, wait for the water and leaves to intermingle while only the freshly brewed and strained liquid comes gently pouring out.

The cups capture the tradition of drinking tea in the mountains while holding the cup with both hands, fulfilling a two-fold purpose of enjoying your brew as well as gathering warmth from the cup." - Yanko Design



This time-keeper is made using simple and basic resources. It tells the story of the mountain and its crafts. It is made by the indigenous ’Chundharey' community of artisans known for making traditional wooden bowls for the Tibetan monks. Their self-made lathe machine is powered by the force of mountain river, and uses no electricity in its production, making it energy efficient. The supporting products are made by similar craft clusters of Sikkim.
The product created craft employment opportunities in the rural Sikkim for a 

green & local economy. The purpose of this product is to create a larger design impact and to promote collaboration between, the designer, the craft-person, the craft and the users defined by the current and future development paradigms. The project is an indicator as to where and how Sikkim is going to position itself with its local industries and products on the global map. It hopes to save a dying craft as it re-looks at the native traditional knowledge pool for inspiration to bridge the gap between the consumer and the artisan. 

Trickle can be bought here.


Trickle was showcased at the London Design Fair from the 21st to the 24th of September at the Old Truman Brewery by IMBYOU.  La also participated in its first international fair at the Indian Handicrafts Fair by Export Promotion Council for handicrafts in Noida, Delhi.

"As marvelous as the Trickle is, its manufacturing is even more fascinating" - Yanko Design

"Handmade without electricity, tea infuser making use of nature in India" - Roomie, Japan

'Trickle' speaks to a growing demand for products that are crafted by hand, from natural materials and that won't harm the environment." - Trendhunter

Read the complete Graduation Project document here

Identity - Latika Nehra
Photographs - Kunga Tashi
Art Direction - Kalyani Tupkary
Thesis Guide - Praveen Nahar