A coffee cup that surprises by concealing the coffee within its walls. The project uses the strategy “concealing expected elements” also used in collaboration with industry for designing the Aurea lamp.

Initially, the person cannot see the coffee inside the cup, as it seems to be empty, but can feel the warmth and weight of the drink.

Upon further exploration, the person finds that they can drink their coffee through the holes on the top of the walls. The coffee is poured inside the chamber within the walls of the cup.

Check out the video of the project including some feedback from the testing sessions

Design by Alex Polglase, Fenella Fenton and Dani Clode.

Esprisso cup

Students’ projects

Students’ talent is showcased here. We include work from the Design Psychology and Industrial Design papers taught by Edgar at Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Design, as well as his postgraduate students. The work is also produced from workshops on surprise led by Edgar in different institutions, including Technical University of Eindhoven (The Netherlands), ITESM (Mexico), Auckland University of Technology (New Zealand), Ewha Womens University (South Korea), among others.

Sugar spoon

A sugar bowl that hides the sugar within a second compartment, so that people think twice before adding sugar to their coffee. The form of the bowl reflects the twisting action that needs to be done to open the lid first, find the empty first chamber, and then keep opening to find the second chamber with the sugar inside.

With the same intention, the sugar spoon is a teaspoon made out of sugar that is placed within sugar sachets. This project uses the strategy “using familiar archetypes in different objects”. The irregular form of the spoon is an ugly beauty that reflects its materiality.

Check out the video showing some results from the testing sessions of the hidden sugar and sugar spoons prototypes and an upbeat track!

Design by Ashleigh Woodmass, Umar Green and Alice McGall.

Hidden sugar

The Loss Table combines principles of scarcity and potential loss to persuade the user to be more organised in their study habits at home. The Loss Table has been arranged specifically to only allow space for what is afforded, while the negative space reminds the user that they could lose their items if they aren’t placed in the right positions, thereby persuading them to keep their desk organised for optimal study time. The use of positive and negative space dictates where specific items required for effective study may or may not be placed, with the risk of losing any items that do not fit.

Check out the video showing some results from the testing sessions.

Design by Tom Chau, Taryn Hart, Laura Pincus and Holly Chapman.

Loss table

Sound corridor is a home installation, the concept for this project was influenced from the initial observation of someone leaving their door open when they return home. The original psychology topic of persuasion has been related to the use of negative reinforcement via sound stimuli to address a person’s behaviour of not closing the door. This is an attempt to get the person entering the home to make an emotional connection between the sound playing through the hidden speakers when the door is left open, therefore encouraging them to close it.

Design by Chris Callus, Ash Blakemore, Toby de Friez, Aimee Lander.

Sound corridor

Blue Hansel is a take on the Hansel and Gretel story. The blue electroluminescent wire is used to create a path of light for the child to go to the bathroom and back to their bedroom at night. The project used the strategy "emphasise or exaggerate the properties of components" by emphasising the length of the wire, its flexibility and light emitting qualities.

Design by Zoe Saville-Wood.

Blue Hansel

The lamp conceals any electric connection between its base and the wires that support the light bulb. The only visible thing is a transparent plastic base that supports the lamp. It would seem there is no way for electricity to reach the light bulb. This is achieved by carrying the electricity through thin aluminium tape stuck to the sides of the transparent plastic piece.

Design by Alex Buckman.

Floating light

This lamp turns on when it feels the weight of a full mug on it. It has a dimmer that fades the light down as the weight decreases. Hurumeke observed her partner always drinking a cup of tea when going to bed or a coffee in the mornings while reading. She realised there was a correlation between the lamp being on and her partner having a hot drink.

Design by Tui Hurumeke.

Lamp mug me

Jesse's design experiments with the flexible qualities of LED strips. Jesse embedded the LED strip inside a knitted piece that includes a zipper that runs all along the lamp. When the zipper closes, the knitted piece forms a structural tube that can take many shapes, from a spiral to a wearable lamp.

Design by Jesse Badger.

Flexible zipper lamp

Design of a chaise longue that emphasises the posture adopted when sitting by having a picture frame around the floating chaise.

Design by James Boock, Max Holz, Kohen Judd, Brenna McGuinness, Philippa Shipley and Hannah Warren.

Portrait chaise

Design of a chaise longue that challenges the qualities and strength of thin strips of wood. Together, the strips hold a person’s weight and create an enclosed space for them to relax.

Design by Helen Andreae.


© edgar rodriguez 2014

Design of a chaise longue that can roll around as the person shifts their weight.

Design by Patrick Crowe, Jodi Meadows, Martin Lim, Rhea Hopkinson, Andrea  Buhmann and Atsushi Yamada.


In her Masters project, Emma investigated several ways to create surprise through visual tactile incongruity: objects do not feel the way they look or they do not look the way they feel.

For instance, Emma designed a table that looks rigid, but it is actually made out of foam.

The properties of the table allow for creating other functions, like a fruit bowl thanks to the flexibility of the table.

This tea cup looks soft thanks to the edge that seems to copy the action of someone grabbing it, but it is made out of ceramic. The bend allows for holding the teabag.

The ceramic plates seem to be flexible and copy the shape of someone holding them.

Design by Emma Fox-Derwin. Supervised by Professor Simon Fraser, Tim Miller and Dr Edgar Rodriguez. Visit her site at Well-Groomed Fox.

Visual tactile incongruity