The SAS Pot

Still serving with a smile

This coffee pot is literally used all over the world. More than 20 years after its launch the groundbreaking product, initially designed for SAS, continues to serve customers of 35 airlines. It’s a great example of how an investment in ergonomic and sustainable design can pay off and create a design icon of the sky.

One of Veryday’s most famous designs is the drip-free serving pot, developed for Scandinavian Airlines in the 80’s. The coffee pot has been honored with design awards from all around the world and even made it into MoMA’s permanent collection. It all began when SAS contacted Veryday to solve the problem with increasing numbers of reported repetitive strain injuries among the cabin crew. As it turned out, the culprit was the pot used for serving tea and coffee.

I was on an SAS flight after the launch of the pot, and the cabin crew brought me champagne.

Maria Benktzon, Designer

The old pot was made of stainless steel and weighed 2.5 kilos when full. Also the handle was placed away from the centre of gravity, which meant that you had to carry the pot’s weight outside your hand, with your arm and wrist. Consequently the cabin crew developed repetitive strain injuries in their shoulders and arms.

The design team set out to find the optimal distance between the wrist and the centre of gravity of the volume. Additionally the new pot had to be drip-proof, fit into storage boxes, withstand major temperature changes from minus three degrees to 120 degrees, and be able to take very rough handling.

After extensive user research and design work a new pot emerged, one that achieved the optimal distance between the flight attendant’s wrist and centre of gravity. Industrial designers Maria Benktzon and Sven-Eric Juhlin worked on the pot between 1984-1987.

The final design of the SAS pot was mainly governed by functionality but manufacturing method also had a great impact. The client kept telling the designers that the technical problems weren’t as important as user needs, but it wasn’t easy to find a manufacturer that was prepared to construct the tools for the complicated shape. The SAS pot was supplemented in 1992 with an ergonomically developed serving tray with a sugar bowl and cream jug and in 1994 with a juice jug.

The design has achieved its core objective of reducing the high costs of staff sick leave. The people-driven design of Maria Benktzon and Sven Eric Juhlin  helps to keep the cabin crew fit and healthy. The original coffee pot is still in service and 35 airlines are currently using it. A long time has passed since the initial order of a couple of thousands of pots. Today almost 500,000 pots have been sold.