Created by New York-based designers Tom Chan and Kaanur Papo, Unocup was conceived as a sustainable alternative to coffee cups with plastic lids, which make up 5 percent of the 8.25 million tons of single-use plastic waste entering the ocean every year.
Chan began working on the Unocup when he was a sophomore at Cooper Union. During his school’s Invention Factory summer program in 2015, Chan made around 800 prototypes for Unocup, alongside his collaborator Papo, who is an architect. That prototyping was all worth it because they were awarded $100,000 by the New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize to further develop their innovation.
Now, Unocup is more ergonomic than ever. As seen in the video below, the cup’s three sides fold into a peak that becomes an integrated lid. There’s also a tab that tucks into a slot, creating an opening for coffee to pass through. Every part of the Unocup was precisely measured, so it’s impossible for the lid to pop off on its own. The cup’s three sides can also be folded inward or outward, depending on one’s sipping preferences.
To give Unocup a brand identity, Chan and Papo have recruited Alexis Kandra, an artist known for her nature-themed artworks that typically feature animals in surreal environments. Below are Kandra’s impressive designs that make Unocup uniquely identifiable while also promoting eco-awareness.
Chan and Papo recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help them manufacture and distribute Unocups to cafes and restaurants. They are hoping to raise $14,500 to cover the production costs of the first batch and Kandra’s payment for her work. As of writing, around 240 backers have already pledged $11,300 to the campaign.