Swedish design firm Aarke aimed to bring a touch of sophistication to countertop sparkling water makers with the Carbonator 3, a minimalist kitchen gadget that pays homage to Italian espresso machines.
Shortlisted in the Product Design category of the 2022 Dezeen Awards, the soda maker adds fizz to still water via carbon dioxide cartridges, presenting an alternative to bottled sodas.
To elevate the design of the gadget and ensure a long lifespan, Aarke has tried to emulate the same sense of heritage associated with traditional espresso machines along with their use of strong materials.
The resulting object is compact, with a head that resembles the portafilter of a coffee machine attached to a single stainless steel column.
It features a CNC-machined stainless steel nozzle that the brand says is designed to deliver a “smooth and precise” release of CO2.
The product was designed “from the inside out”, according to Aarke, so that form follows function and every piece has a purpose. Even the nameplate plays a dual role, securing the tube that allows excess water to flow safely through the inner chamber to the drip tray.
Other details aim to improve safety and efficiency, such as the rotation damper on the lever, which allows a more controlled release of pressure inside the bottle and a higher fill line.
The Carbonator 3 is cordless, requiring only standard CO2 gas cartridges and no electricity to operate. These cylinders carbonate up to 60 liters of water each and can be refilled in specialty stores.
One of the biggest challenges in designing the product was creating its stainless steel case, according to Aarke founders Carl Ljung and Jonas Groth.
“Three-dimensional stainless steel parts are extremely difficult to produce on a larger scale without compromising quality and precision,” Ljung said. “The shapes of the Carbonator push metal craftsmanship to its limits.”
To help ensure long life, Aarke engineers built a dedicated device to test the product’s operation over 10,000 carbonation cycles. This allowed them to identify and adapt potentially sensitive parts for repeated use.
Currently, only some parts of the gadget are replaceable, but the brand aims to make the product more repairable.
Ljung and Groth, both industrial designers, founded Aarke in 2013 and launched the first Carbonator four years later.
Their best-known competitor is SodaStream, a company founded in England in 1903 and now owned by PepsiCo and headquartered in Israel.
Since buying the company in 2018, PepsiCo has made a soft drink dispenser for schools and offices that people can use with their own bottles.