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An Ode to Tap Water

Lotte de Raadt made quite a splash in Milan this year catching the attention of even The New York Times for her research and designs for tap water.

By Gabrielle Kennedy / 12-05-2011

Perched atop every chic café and restaurant table across the globe is often a bottle of water.  For many of us, asking for mere tap water when presented with the option of still or sparkling can be quite embarrassing.

“It is rare to see plain old tap water served in a restaurant,” says recent Design Academy Eindhoven graduate, Lotte de Raadt.  “Bottled water has an image of good health and quality.”

That image says nothing of the truth, however.  Water sold in plastic bottles is trucked and flown around the globe and is an environmental disaster.  And a wholly avoidable one.

“Perhaps not everywhere, but I have studied Dutch water and it is perfectly healthy and clean,” De Raadt says.

In Eindhoven train station alone there is one unused bubbler (on platform three) and twenty shops, seventeen of which sell bottled water.  “An average bottle costs two euros,” says De Raadt.  “Tap water is 2000 times cheaper at 0.002 cents per liter.”

To stimulate awareness, De Raadt wanted to reveal to people more about where their own tap water comes from.  “It is surprisingly local,” she says.  “I discovered my own water comes from just one kilometer away.”

De Raadt also learnt that water sits in a reservoir for three months to allow any silt to naturally seep downwards.  And the original water source will always affect taste. “Dutch water tastes different in different provinces depending on what the water source and purification method is,” she says.

For her graduation project De Raadt produced a map showing the ten Dutch water companies and what their water sources are.   “In Holland it is either water from deep underground, surface water from rivers, for example, or water from the dunes,” she says.

To correspond with that de Raadt designed three water carafes.  “The idea is to make the image of tap water more attractive,” she says.  

Each carafe resembles a tap and is shaped according to where the water is sourced from – the longest necked bottle is for water that comes from deep underground, the stout bottle is for collecting surface water and the last one is for collecting dune water. The stopper reveals where the water eventually comes from – a tap.

“In the end all I want is to encourage people to drink more tap water,” de Raadt says. “It is something I really believe in.”

Photography by Maarten de Raadt.

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