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September 16, 2013
After a long-awaited, highly anticipated release date, Soma Water is finally here! The San Francisco-based startup enlisted former design director at Incase and IDEO Markus Diebel and Joe Tan, co-founder of Incase, to design the world's first 100% compostable water filter—a rare combination of elegance, ergonomics, and style. Here, we ask the duo about their process, future projects, and why failing along the way is crucial and essential to great design.
Sketch of Soma Water

How did the collaboration come about with Soma Water?

After meeting with Mike we were immediately drawn to the idea of rethinking how we filter our water while also helping to solve the global water problem. There was great synergy and chemistry and we started to get to work.

Tell us a little more about the design process.

We set out to create the best water drinking experience and brainstormed different ideas and scenarios. We then created a few concepts and prototypes to validate our ideas. Soma went with the most iconic which happened to be one of the more challenging designs to make into a real product. We had to fail a lot along the way, chartering new territory, exploring what worked and what didn't, but we were also able to apply and further develop and apply our design process to facilitate creative decision-making and hone in on making the best idea a tangible reality. Looking back, this was an amazing process to see a big idea come to life.

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Markus Diebel and Joe Tan of Soma Water

What was the inspiration behind it?

The inspiration came mostly from the need for something that simply didn't exist. We wanted to create a water filter that functioned extremely well from a user experience standpoint but was also object of high iconic value and beautiful simplicity. Highly desirable yet timeless. We chose materials that were as sustainable as possible, but we also chose glass as a material for the main container to heighten its water quality and superior taste. The final conic filter form represents a metaphor for the filtering and reductionist cleansing process in its most iconic and intuitive way.

What makes Soma Water unique from the other filters currently out there?

We've created an absence of visual clutter and technology and we've combined materials that were unconventional but actually made sense. The biggest difference however is Soma's holistic point of view. Not only does Soma deliver the best water consuming experience, but its sustainable as well as social commitment to respect our resources and to enable people and places in need to have clean drinking water access is what makes Soma Water such a unique and attractive proposition. Drinking water has never felt this good.

Photo credit: Gundolf Pfotenhauer

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S

How did you bring your experiences from IDEO and Incase to Soma Water?

Humanizing the design process and focusing on the complete user experience were some of the most important design drivers when we worked at IDEO, and it's a formula we continued to develop and refine throughout our collaboration at Incase, where we were challenged to bring products successfully to market season after season. These experiences gave us the confidence to make highly creative decisions that pushed the limits of what was actually possible. Not the most easy road to take but the there was this amazing synergy between us and Soma to set the bar really high.

Any future projects in line?

Making more products for Soma to get more people excited about the products, the brand and its premise. Moreless is grateful to be part of this journey.

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Sketch of Soma Water

How did the collaboration come about with Soma Water?

After meeting with Mike we were immediately drawn to the idea of rethinking how we filter our water while also helping to solve the global water problem. There was great synergy and chemistry and we started to get to work.

Tell us a little more about the design process.

We set out to create the best water drinking experience and brainstormed different ideas and scenarios. We then created a few concepts and prototypes to validate our ideas. Soma went with the most iconic which happened to be one of the more challenging designs to make into a real product. We had to fail a lot along the way, chartering new territory, exploring what worked and what didn't, but we were also able to apply and further develop and apply our design process to facilitate creative decision-making and hone in on making the best idea a tangible reality. Looking back, this was an amazing process to see a big idea come to life.

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