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Institut Integrative Gestaltung | Masterstudio

A Journey of Tea Leaves

A Journey of Tea Leaves

Nini Zhang, what’s the topic of your final thesis?
My MA thesis is called «A Journey of Tea Leaves» and is about an Interior Herb Garden design which is to be implemented in a Zero Waste Café.

Why this topic specifically (can be answered together with the first question)?
I am fascinated by tea – fragrant leaves immersed in water – for thousands of years, humans have practised this simple act to create a perfect drink. Tea culture has had great impact across the world. However, in recent decades, tea has also joined the instant drink group with its single-brew teabag. The task of creating the interior of the Zero Waste Café at Dreispitz, gives me the chance to design a new tea drinking experience for guests in the future.

How can you and your work contribute to the future of our society in terms of the current environmental, political, and/or economic challenges we face today? How do you judge your scope of action in this respect?
The Interior Herb Garden would not only connect humans with nature, guests could also harvest herb leaves themselves and so create their own tea mixture. The guests are not only the consumers but also the cultivators; once the tea is finished, guests are encouraged to return their tea waste to the «Tea Waste Collector» at the centre of the Herb Garden. Herbs like acidic soil and some of the nutritional elements contained in the tea waste. The liquid tea waste is therefore collected once a day by the café manager and used for nurturing the herb garden.
My project is an initiative to inspire people to enjoy local production and consumption in a business model. With the growing consciousness of upcycling, our modern society is gaining a positive view of zero waste and willing to choose sustainable gains in the long run over short-term profits. The design set of Interior Herb Garden could be adapted and further developed in many other café or tea salons and has the potential to create and shape new tea drinking habits.

Where do you think your professional journey will take you after completing your studies? Think ahead - I would like to continue working on projects of innovative ideas with a sustainability goal. Work together - I enjoy collaborating with people from different fields and sharing our insights together.

Please find further information on Nini Zhang’s project here