Since 2015 the South African city Cape Town is experiencing its driest period in over a century. Currently, level 6 water restrictions are in place, which means “all residents are required to use no more than 87 litres of municipal drinking water per person per day in total”. Being a South African designer whose family and friends are directly affected by the on-going water crisis, Shaakira Jassat started to reflect on this precious element that is often “spilled” so carelessly. Water is contained in almost everything around us, but at the same time it is a scarce resource.

In order to show the amount of virtual water a simple cup of tea contains, she created an installation that consists of almost 60 ceramic cups. For every 150 ml of tea, around 30 l of water is required in the entire chain process. The installation functions as a large tea maker, where one has to pour water into the tallest cup continuously until the very last cup at the bottom is filled.

Shaakira Jassat dedicated this work to her father who passed away in November last year. “Just like I took for granted that my dad would be around indefinitely”, she says, “we somehow all tend to take for granted that our natural resources will be here to serve us forever”.

A transparent, semi-gloss glaze is used on the ivory baked earthenware of all the cups – except the last one. The very last cup, which is only filled once the water passed through all the cups preceding, has been glazed in a bright saffron yellow and it has a golden rim is the very last one. This final cup can be taken away at the end of the process.