As useless as…

There are many ways in the English language of describing something which is useless – “as useless as a chocolate teapot” is one of the more common terms, and needs no explanation. Perhaps it is surprising to find that many teapots are almost completely useless because they don’t pour properly, and splash tea everywhere. I’m not being picky or overly sensitive when I say this – they are utterly useless, and there is no way in which anyone would knowingly buy such a teapot.


[Image courtesy of Note – no criticism of this particular teapot is implied by its appearance in this blog, nor should be inferred. It was selected as a “generic” teapot. Whilst I could reasonably expect it to function properly, I have no way of knowing whether or not it does – without trying it first…]

Hardly surprising then, to find that a local china shop has a jug of water near to its teapots, enabling customers to try them before they buy. Those which don’t pour properly remain stubbornly in the shop, presumably forever. Or at least until a shopper smashes them in frustration.

“Try before you buy” is a great concept – it gives the consumer reassurance and builds confidence in the product before purchase. Sometimes this is crucial, particularly if the product has some subjective qualities which may or may not suit the consumer, and which remain hidden until after purchase – including style or fit. But I don’t believe there should be anything about a teapot which warrants the need for “try before you buy” treatment.

How on earth do such teapots ever make it into production? Surely “the ability to pour” ranks high on the list of essential features – up there with “a container for storing boiling water”. There is no way in which the final design can have been tested, surely?

I don’t know the design rules which dictate whether or not a spout pours properly, but I’m certain that they are well understood. Maybe this is another example of form getting in the way of function. Nobody in their right mind would knowingly buy something as utterly useless as a teapot which doesn’t pour. And I don’t believe any designer should be able to get away with such a feat.

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