While searching for the perfect accessories to pair with our teas, we found Chuntso Liu, a Taiwanese designer who has created the intriguing but stunning Ash Gray Tea set for Koan+. It’s deceptively simple but as these things go, there’s more than meets the eye.

Chuntso talks about what inspires him, his design philosophy, and why he chose teaware.  

Chuntso Liu's Ash Gray Set

I chose the teacup because people use it everyday life; I think it’s the basic element in a home.


It’s round, and also square. Holding water is a logical and natural manifestation of the round mug. Adding a cube on its surface is a human expression.


I don’t like modernist or minimalist design. Form follows function is a principle associated with 20th century modernist architecture and industrial design. People were more fascinated with mass production. They like to think that machines are serving people, but in the end it’s about people serving the machine.


I wanted to go back to the basic, make the object functional but also emotional. There are two ways of thinking about aesthetics: Proportion and Human Cognition. I think proportion is about people learning from nature’s structure; this structure is limited on earth, because the gravity of the earth influences what the world looks like. But what about human cognition? How can visual elements and their composition influence people’s perception about the object?

Round is a basic functional shape that when filled with water, at a cognition level, gives the impression of being a full and stable shape. How do we add something more, an emotional feeling that is both tangible and yet simple, to a round object? I thought about the fullmoon changing, about flower petals falling, and felt if something could interrupt the round, it could make a connection.


I was studying Mechanical Engineering. But after two years working in 3C Manufacturing, I found my calling in industrial design. So I went back to school and my research area was human cognition. Art is breakthrough thinking, it’s the way to find something we have never seen or thought of before. Design and art’s relationship is just like the science and engineering.

Why did I choose design? Because it’s perfect combination of sense and sensibility, design thinking and mechanical engineering.


I find inspiration easily. I read a lot—real books, internet, social networks, news and classics, words and pictures, people and the environment. But it’s important to connect with nature. We’ve become so focused on that tiny screen that we forget the big picture—our life with nature.

If you have expensive and beautiful objects, just use them. Enjoy them everyday and look after them as they need to be looked after. Then, I think the object will feel very happy. All things will pass away, the only thing we have is what we choose at this moment.

All photographs courtesy Chuntso Liu. The Ash Gray Set is now available right here on Teabox.


(Visited 1,054 times, 1 visits today)


  1. Jon McMahon Reply

    Hi Aravinda,

    Thank you for capturing Chuntso’s inspiring design process. I look forward to hearing more as I begin my journey to appreciate the art of tea.

    • Aravinda Anantharaman Reply

      Jon, Glad to hear it. And do keep coming back for more stories from the tea world

Leave a Reply