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Dr. Chemex


We are huge fans of the Chemex around here. We love the clean cup quality, utility and the classic design that hasn’t changed in over 70 years. The brewer was first invented in 1941 by German chemist/inventor Dr. Peter Schlumbohm. It proudly sits in the MOMA and Smithsonian permanent design collections, and for most us that work here, on our kitchen counters.

Collectors Weekly wrote a cool piece on the Chemex and on the eccentric inventor Schlumbohm. Read it here.


From Collector’s Weekly:

Though the Chemex was his most successful invention by far, Schlumbohm tinkered with other ordinary objects long after the coffeemaker’s success. Some of Schlumbohm’s cleverest contraptions included the Instant Ice container, which chilled liquids quickly using brine; the Cinderella, a conical trash pail with disposable wax-paper linings; and the Minnehaha, a device that mixed and aerated drinks by forcing liquid through hundreds of tiny perforations. Schlumbohm also patented a stylish hot-water kettle made entirely of glass, a disposable aluminum frying pan, and a cigarette holder tipped with a miniature Chemex-shaped fitting that held a tiny filter, years before the tobacco industry adopted them.

In the LIFE magazine piece from 1949, Herbert Brean detailed Schlumbohm’s formula for a successful new product: 20% was recognizing a problem that needed solving, 40% was coming up with a patentable solution, 30% was good design, and 10% was merchandising. Brean wrote of Schlumbohm, “He is the kind who perceives a problem and logically sets about finding a solution that will be efficient, handsome and profitable. Dr. Schlumbohm does all his own selling, writes his own advertisements, direction leaflets and brochures and even types his own patent applications—one draft only, since he refuses to make a mistake.”

Brean also highlighted Schlumbohm’s unconventional schedule, which the inventor insisted helped to fuel his creativity. On a typical weekday, Schlumbohm woke up late, worked on a few new ideas in the kitchen of his stylish penthouse, dropped by the small Chemex factory during the late afternoon (to check on his mail and eight female employees), and ended the evening hopping from restaurant to bar to restaurant again, where many of his best ideas originated. Schlumbohm liked to live large, cruising around Manhattan in a personalized Cadillac featuring a golden hood ornament shaped like a Chemex.history_christmas_RoyDotyhistory_schlumbohm_LIFE_1

Pick up a Chemex in our online shop here.