The sleek-looking patent pending Aura Water Pipe designed by Mauricio Romano along with his team: Tai Geng, Paul Kalousek and Jordan Steranka was a runner up in the Consumer Products category of this year’s Core 77 Design Awards.
The water pipe was designed to appeal to both existing and new users, and to have the aesthetics of a contemporary object that is attractive enough to leave out in plain sight.
It is made of stainless steel, PCABS plastic, and brass components, ensuring minimal breakability, and has all its parts designed for mass production and durability.
Aura’s main components disassemble to allow access to unclean areas for hand cleaning. The entire system is dishwasher safe as well, thanks to these durable materials.
A holding place for the hand is created by the branches of Aura’s mouthpiece, providing intuitive control and comfort. In addition, the wrist and neck of the user are in a neutral position when smoking thanks to the angle of the mouthpiece. Lost lighters are no longer a problem, as space within the mouthpiece is provided to store one when not in use.
Project Research and Details (in their own words):
Our initial research revealed a wide array of opinions and habits relating to smoking, demonstrating to our team just how personal these products are. A water pipe is a display item for some, but many more are hidden away due to their dirty appearance, fragility, and negative stigma. As legalization gains traction, the marijuana market is growing with many new and returning users, many of whom struggle with the uncomfortable position and non-intuitive coordination required to use a water pipe. It was a challenge to simplify the design for these users without also alienating the preferences of veteran users.
The design process involved several beta designs which were presented to an array of users. Much of the pushback on our ideas came from these user’s expectations of how a water pipe should function, based upon the ones they already owned. Our team understood that these veteran users would be less willing to relinquish their rituals and routines for a new and improved product, and the design of Aura would need to be informed by their existing standards.
Ergonomic models that simulated the experience of using the design, accompanied by visuals that communicated the intended materials and final form, allowed us to continually refine the experience of using Aura quickly and iteratively.
Creation of a de-stigmatized water pipe design that can fit in comfortably with other commonly accepted objects of vice, such as a cocktail shaker or wine glass, necessitated a completely new water pipe architecture. The challenge was to retain the functional characteristics of a water pipe, yet position the identity of Aura in the aesthetic context of well made kitchen or coffee table items.
Moodboards and sketching drove the aesthetic development of Aura, followed by simple functional prototypes that validated our sketched and modeled ideas.
A finished functional prototype was created by working hands on with a glass blower, and testing of it’s performance confirmed that form and function had been successfully merged.
It was important to define a brand and image for Aura from the start. Premium, independent, and mature characteristics guided the visual development of the logo, which represents the marijuana leaf in a more refined, calm, and sophisticated manner.
This appeals to users making an informed and responsible decision to use marijuana, and communicates to their poise and control. Aura, as a brand and product, is an affirmation of these users choice in vices in the context of psychedelically stylized or overly technical and intimidating marijuana products. Aura represents peace of mind out in the open, a reflection of the ever transitioning social climate surrounding marijuana.