Matte de Praia
An independent design project.
Inspired by my home city of Rio de Janeiro and a case study on human-centered design and the power of user-collaboration.
What is Matte?
Matte is a traditional Brazilian iced tea drink, often enjoyed at the beach. It is sold by matteiros (tea sellers) who walk the beach pouring Matte from two drums of liquid, called gallons. One is filled with tea and the other is filled with lemon juice: the combination makes the delicious Matte drink that Brazilians have enjoyed for generations.
Matte is as controversial as it is popular. At times, the drink has been banned due to health concerns and scandals regarding the safety of the drink and the working conditions of those selling it. There are reports of matteiros using unfiltered and unsafe water and ice to make the drink, and the traditional sealed design of the gallons makes them nearly impossible to clean. In addition, the matteiros are expected to work long hours in the heat, carrying heavy weight with little support.
Our redesign of the gallons aims to make them healthier for the matteiros and their clients. As part of a group project in my Product Design class, I was responsible for ergonomics research and development, evaluation, visual communication, and presentation.
"I wouldn't change the gallons for a backpack because the look is what sells. People know what they want when they look for Matte"
For this project to succeed, I needed to consider the context in which the matteiros operate.
Matteiros make around $300 USD per month and are constantly exposed to sunlight and sea water (which could corrode any sort of electronic system). We needed to design a product that was durable and affordable. In addition, Rio can be a dangerous place, so expensive, high tech devices might make the matteiros targets for thieves.
The matteiros also identified the uneven distribution as a key issue. As one matteiro told me:
"The real problem isn't when the two gallons are full, but at the end of the day when you sell more Matte than lemon juice. Being crooked is what hurts the most.”
One of the main insights we came across and a defining design moment was the importance of maintaining the looks of the traditional gallons in our redesign.