Duration : 2 years

Role : Researcher, Visualizer, Design Anthropologist & Product Designer

Description :  a cross-cultural design methodology to create products of lasting value: Sär An energy saving and completely natural ceramic water purifier

In collaboration and testing with Savannah Industrial & Domestic Water Treatment Plant , Suresh Sisodia, former Water Filtration Expert of BRITA, India and Ceramic Technical Experts Mitzi Davis (SCAD) & Rashi Jain (Studio Karva)

Sär is a product borne of Tansculturation from India to America to create meaningful products, experiences and interactions in homes between people and products. Sär in Hindi translates to extract or essence. 

Sär, a earth water purifier gives only the purest extract of drinking water for urban homes in America to a mindful user, made completely from earth and its resources adding value and substance through a conscious mindful way of living.

A water purifier that gives only the purest water with a pleasant earthy taste is a true testament to nature and its resources, using terracotta clay as a filtering element, silver as disinfectant, and coconut husk derivative activated carbon as adsorbent. A receptacle of hand-blown glass keeps water fresh, and the brass tap adds luxury and sanitation by using its natural antimicrobial properties. Seated on a recycled wooden base/box tree trunks that stores spare carbon cartridges and acts as a pedestal for convenient water dispensing. All these applications were inspired and applied from the ancient wisdom in the Indian science journals of the Ayurveda towards a holistic way of living.

Infographic by Armin Reller of the University of Augsburg and Tom Graedel of Yale University. 

This environmental infographic shows consumption levels of various materials and relative timelines until we run out of them. It also shows the impact of American consumption, in particular, and makes the point by showing the even worse spot we’d be in if the world’s per capita consumption rate was at the American rate of consumption.

A universal problem of water is looked into and a question is asked: How does America consume water?

A universal problem of water is looked into and a question is asked: How does America consume water?

What are America's water consumption habits? Most of America is drinking water out of plastic water bottles or water dispensers made of plastic. Plastic, despite being BPA free, leaches harmful Pthalates in water reported to be carcinogenic.

What are America's water consumption habits? Most of America is drinking water out of plastic water bottles or water dispensers made of plastic. Plastic, despite being BPA free, leaches harmful Pthalates in water reported to be carcinogenic.

India's frugal innovation approach rooted in natural materials through Ayurvedic wisdom serves as a  inspiring Conservation Model and possible solution to Consumption Model; a pressing problem at hand in America.

The Thesis Logic Model highlights the Production-Consumption heavy cycle the profession of Industrial design is know to perpetuate, and a possible addition of Transcultural design which introduces, with Culture, meaning value and promotes serviceability and longevity of the product to rein in the wasteful cycle.


The problem of drinking water patterns and Consumption is dealt with from a vantage point of Anthropology. Design Anthropology and its principles are applied to arrive at social clues, theories and solutions.

In the search of Design Elements of a Culture, the riddling question of What is Indian Design resounded. Cultural Immersion tools were used to tackle the complex and dense webs of Indian Culture.


3 themes recurred ; Frugal Innovation(Jugaad) , Repair and Spirituality(through vessels)

Streets of Indian cities of Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai, Agra were scoured to arrive at design elements under 3 broad categories of structural, Physical, Symbolic.

Stories from home visits with strangers, designers, family and friends, although from distinct backgrounds and spoke different languages and displayed different behavior, had common values that have been cataloged above.


Everyday Objects used in India told stories of the mundane activities, and held a key to complex behavior and rituals of a culture and were not just an inspiration to my research, but many other artists and designers who made a commentary on objects that told a story.

Interviews and informal chats with designers and water specialists gave insight into the heart and soul of what is Indian Design

20 people's water purification practices were surveyed across America with 20 questions to arrive at 4 personas & revelations

Substituting a traditional matrix to show gaps in opportunity, a Custom Performance Triangle tool was developed to measure on its 3 arms Cost, Efficiency & Earth Quotient, plotting each water filter in the market. The biggest triangle wins.

Trends in American Markets were spotted towards earthy terracotta, sometimes Cultural influences like Moroccan Tagines, blue and white ceramics,, Indian textiles in Ikats and printing techniques, Copper and Brass cooking utensils showed signs of Transculturation already in progress, as people look for meaning in the objects at home.


Indian Design Element Board serves as a source for design inspiration for the final water purifier to be designed.

The material references and application of the water purifier were put to test for different functions through rigorous testing.


3 rounds of Experiments were held for Red & White body filters, each arriving at Process & Design Findings to arrive at the ideal shape, size, volume, flow rate and chemical & bacterial efficacy.

All the filters were tested with TDS Meters, which upon giving unreliable results, were replaced with a visit to the Savannah Industrial and Domestic Water Treatment Plant for reliable and accurate results for contaminant removal.

10 water samples from commercial Carbon & Ceramic water filters were compared with The Red & White Clay Test pieces for Chlorine, Iron, Copper, Nitrates & Calcium, Red Water filters performed comparably or better than the industrial market filters in removal of Chemical contaminants.

The form of the filter was sketched to be contemporary with Indian and Western influences. The western decanter reveals a silhouette of the 'Matka' when seated on a wooden base. Symmetrical, sinuous Indian curves from the board are incorporated.

The dispenser was prototyped (blown,drilled)in collaboration with Drayton Glassworks in Savannah, Georgia.


A working prototype of Sar

Concept cards developed during the MFA Thesis as an effort to condense and create connections between complex theories.

The Concept Cards kit act as a kit to carry forward a following initiative to create Transcultural Objects between any 2 Cultures.